Catching a shark in Georgia

This past weekend, I indulged in a fun activity where I went shrimping aboard Lady Jane, a United States Coast Guard certified vessel in Brunswick, Georgia. The 49 passenger boat took me for a two-hour cruise through the marshes of Saint Simons Islands, for an unforgettable fishing experience!  The experienced team was led by Captain Larry Credle. I looked forward to an an experience where I could enjoy the calm water, learn about the marine life, and eat some delicious shrimp. Continue reading “Catching a shark in Georgia”

Brazilian shrimp soup

This past weekend I taught a cooking class on how to make hearty soups and salads that can be eaten as full meals. They are nutritious, filling and make wholesome entrees. Out of all the dishes we prepared, the class unanimously voted for the Brazilian shrimp soup as the most delicious and their favorite. I have not been to Brazil yet, but have been making this recipe for over 10 years. It’s something I found (don’t even remember where) or I could give credit to it’s original creator.

If you want to make it healthier, use brown rice instead of white and lite coconut milk instead of regular. I don’t recommend substituting the coconut milk as it imparts a nice sweet flavor to the soup. To further enhance the flavor, use shrimp stock instead of water. Boil raw shrimp with shells in water for 10 minutes or until cooked. Remove shrimp, peel and keep aside. Strain and reserve stock to use in recipe.

Brazilian Shrimp Soup

  • 2 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 8 oz. large cooked shrimp
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 6oz. can tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a large shallow pot. Add bell pepper & onion to the pot & cook till tender (about 10 minutes) over medium heat. Add the tomato puree & cook for 2 more minutes. Then, add the next 3 ingredients & mix well. Add water & bring to a boil. Cover & simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, mix well to make sauce even in color. Add salt & pepper according to taste. Let the sauce heat thoroughly. Slice each shrimp into half, lengthwise, and drop in the sauce. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

Hawaiian Dinner Party

I love themed parties! In fact, I always try to create a theme around any dinner party I host. It helps me keep the menu together, try new recipes and make things interesting for my attendees. In the past, I have organized a game night, pool party, grill day, just tapas, wine and cheese, TV show finales, Moroccan, Mexican, Indian, Italian and much more. But this was my first time hosting a Hawaiian dinner party.

With the help of my friend Sonia Viteri, we decided on a menu for 15 people who were part of the group, Dinner with a Passport, a once a month dinner adventure meet up founded in Atlanta. We had less than 24 hours to plan, shop, prepare and host! With a few emails, phone calls, and shopping trips, we settled on a easy and light menu that would beat the heat of the summer (in Hotlanta) while representing the fresh ingredients used in Hawaiian cuisine. We found most of the recipes on the internet and adopted some of them as we went along.

The best thing about this menu is not much prep work is required. Only a couple of hours of marinating and chopping is sufficient. Everything is cooked and assembled just before serving. Good option for a last minute party thrower!

We greeted our guests with lei’s and offered Mai Tai’s and wine for drinks. The first course was a coconut fried shrimp. We used beer batter and unsweetened dry coconut (toasted in the oven) and deep fried the shrimp as guests started to arrive. Sonia whipped up a sauce with mashed pineapples, chillies and mustard to serve with the shrimp.

For the second course, we prepared three different kinds of salads. The tropical fruit salad was mixed cut fruits served in the shell of a watermelon. There were kiwis, watermelons, pineapples and papayas (pretty much all the fruit we had left over from making other dishes).

The papaya cucumber salad with a spicy dressing was a huge hit. Cilantro, ginger, sugar and red chili paste worked their magic on each other to create this flavorful dressing that made the fruits jump up and down with excitement. Papaya pairs well with spicy, tangy sauces in case you never tried it before. We served the salad over a bed of fresh lettuce leaves.

Next was a crunchy watermelon salad with cabbage, fried noodles and green onions. The black sesame seeds and chopped mint leaves added a lot of color to this already colorful meal. It was refreshing with the right balance of sweetness and crunchiness.

For the main course, there was Huli Huli Chicken, grilled drumsticks marinated in pineapples, white wine, soy sauce and ginger. We marinated the chicken for 2 hours and then kept basting it with the marinade while cooking so its nicely caramelized. The chicken was sweet, tender and juicy after being on the grill for 30 minutes.

It was paired with a short grain jasmine rice cooked with coconut water and sesame seeds. The rice was served in frozen pineapple shells. It’s sole purpose was to remind you of the tropics, so we named it Tropical Rice. There were also Hawaiian rolls for those who preferred bread.

Dessert was a simple Hawaiian banana fritters. Small variety of bananas (lady finger) were cut in half and fried with butter and brown sugar. We made a sauce from rum, water and dark sugar and drizzled it over the bananas and vanilla ice cream. If you plan to make this, make sure the bananas are fully rips, else they won’t taste sweet.

 

 

 

An undiscovered gem from southern India

Karwar is a small town on the western coast of India, just south of Goa. It was an ancient site of sea trade visited by the Arabs, Dutch, Portuguese, French and later the British.  Karwar is still known for its pristine beaches and a bustling seaport.

Although a lot of information can be found on Goan cuisine, the cuisine of Karwar is largely a well kept secret. The two happen to have a few commonalities but still differ in taste, flavor and variety. You will not find any cookbooks revealing the regional recipes and the only way to get them is through a native. And so I did! One of my friends happens to be from Karwar. She has also lived in Mumbai and Goa, but is loyal to her Karwari roots. After months of persuasion, she finally let me into her classified kitchen closet in Atlanta where she showed me her stack of whole spices that I had never seen or heard of before. Among these was my new discovery – white kokum phool. Kokum is a small round fruit that has its origins in India. It has a sweet and sour taste, similar to tamarind. It is dried and sold in packet or made into powder. In Karwar cuisine, it is used as generously as salt and pepper.

During the course of the evening, we prepared shrimp fry, fish fry, and coconut chicken curry. The generous hostess had already cooked other side items to go with our banquet style dinner.

The shrimp and fish fry are prepared in the same manner and served as an appetizer.

 

 


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Shrimp Fry

 

1 teaspoon garlic paste

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon red chili powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ lemon

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed

½ cup vegetable or canola oil

½ cup semolina (known as Sooji at Indian stores)

Mix the first four ingredients in a small bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice into the spices and add 1 tablespoon of oil to make it pasty. Rub the spice mixture on the shrimps using the half of the lemon to coat. Leave aside for 5 minutes.

Heat oil in a large fry pan on medium temperature. Spread the semolina on a plate. Lightly coat each shrimp with semolina on both sides, and then add to the hot oil. Fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Serve immediately.