Not Quite My Mom’s Coconut Shrimp Curry

October 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

I have hesitated in putting up Indian recipes because I know I will never live up to the women in my family. But, I’m going to try anyhow.

This curry is one of my favorite dishes that my mom makes- it’s always the one that’s waiting for me when I go back home. (Even if it’s 1 am). Our family is from a place called Mangalore, which is a smaller town on the west coast of India. Traditional food there includes a lot of coconut and seafood, due to the proximity to the ocean. Mangalore is basically awesome and you should go there if you ever get a chance. (Go in December, where any/every night of the week you could be invited to a party that goes until the wee hours of the morning).

This curry turned out great- Andrew loved it- but of course I thought my mom’s was better. She tells me it’s because I don’t have this specific ingredient called Bafat Powder* that is unique to Mangalore, but I know it’s just because she is a better cook. I also need to get a curry leaf plant like we had growing up 🙂

*The reason Bafat Powder is so good is because each spice is dry roasted and then ground to create the mixture. Because it is specific to Mangalore, I don’t think you can necessarily find it at international grocery stores.

Anyway- here is the recipe for my first shot at this coconut curry. This version is pretty mild; next time I’m going to add green chillies.


  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of clove powder (I skipped)
  • vinegar
  • large onion, sliced thin
  • green chillies (optional)
  • large tomato, diced
  • 1/2 inch ginger grated*
  • 8 small cloves of garlic, or 4 regular/large ones minced*
  • 1 can of coconut milk (preferably full-fat)
  • 3 small red potatoes, parboiled and diced into large pieces
  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • cooking oil
  • salt to taste
*Or you can make ginger garlic paste as described below

{ginger, garlic, vinegar}

This step is optional, but it really helps if you use a lot of garlic and ginger. Ginger is no fun to chop, as I learned with this. Put equal parts ginger and garlic in a food processor, and chop it up fine. Add enough vinegar to make it into a paste- this helps preserve it. You can keep your jar of ginger garlic paste in the fridge and just use spoonfuls when you need those 2 ingredients.


This is another time-saving trick that my mom does. Wash and pierce your potatoes, put them in a bowl, and just cover them with water. Parboil them in the microwave- but don’t let them get too soft. Try 3 minutes at first, then poke them to see if they are kind of done but not fully. Remove immediately and let them cool before dicing them.

{first 9 ingredients}

Mix all of the powders together in a small bowl, then add just enough vinegar to make it into a paste. Set aside. I wish this picture was a true depiction of how fun this bowl looks with all the colors, but I thought about it too late and had already covered up some colors.

{remaining ingredients}

Fry your onion and chopped chillies if you are using them in oil until onions are softened and delicious smelling. Add your tomato, ginger, and garlic. If you are using the ginger garlic paste- add 1 1/2 tsp. Fry until the raw smell goes away. Add the spice mixture you made, and fry for 1-2 minutes stirring constantly. Add your coconut milk and stir everything up. Add your diced potatoes. Add your shrimp last- if you want to, save a little of the spice paste and put it on the shrimp first. I forgot to do this. Add salt to taste.

Serve with white rice- or as my mom likes to say, “nice with rice”. We didn’t have white rice, but my I believe it goes best with white basmati rice. I’ve also been known to eat curry as soup.


§ One Response to Not Quite My Mom’s Coconut Shrimp Curry

  • Courtney says:

    Yum! This looks so good. I love the idea of garlic/ginger paste as I hate cutting them both up. I bet this tasted much better than you give yourself credit for. I think you should post a recipe for that addicting snack mix that your mom used to always bring. I dream about that sometimes.

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