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Monday, August 13, 2007

Caribbean Dreaming - Shrimp Banana Curry

My first trip to Central America was to the beautiful country of Belize. It is a laid-back country with a blend of Caribbean and Latin cultures with a British Commonwealth infrastructure. The country pushes out into the warm Caribbean Sea on one side and is bordered by Mexico's Yucat√°n Peninsula and rugged jungles of Guatemala. The country primarily attracts two distinct travellers: the eco-tourist who marvel at the unspoilt wonders of Belize's tropical rainforests and the serious diver who aims to explore the second largest barrier reef in the world in all its underwater splendour. Belize’s beautiful islands slightly off its coasts are wonderful jumping off points to view sting rays, nurse shark, flying fish and dolphins. It is a warm, welcoming place where people are friendly and kind with where an astounding level of bio-diversity continues to thrive.

The first time I had banana curry was our first night in Belize. I had never conceived of banana as a curry ingredient when I first saw it on a menu, but as usual, my culinary curiosity left me with no choice but to try it. It was truly decadent - the curry was smooth, creamy, and luscious. There were no visible signs that bananas were in the dish but the taste was unmistakable. As the banana warms, it melts into the curry mellowing out the spices. It lends a warm sweetness to the shrimp that transports you to the warm, breezy nights on Ambergris Caye.

I love this recipe because the smooth, sweet curry is flecked with black mustard seeds and the shrimp really gives it a real exotic feel.

Shrimp Banana Curry
3 ripe bananas broken into pieces
1 lb of raw shrimp
1 c of light coconut milk
1/2 small onion -diced
1/2 small pepper - diced
3 carrots - small coins
1 c of baby tomatoes - sliced in half (I used heirlooms today)
2 tbsp of butter
1/4 tsp of black mustard seed
1/4 tsp of tumeric
1/4 garam masala
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tbsp of parsley - chopped finely

1. Heat pan and add butter. When the butter is foamy, add shrimp. Flip shrimp over after 1 minute. After another minute, the shrimp should start to curl but is not thoroughly cooked. Remove from the pan and set aside.
2. Add the black mustard seeds, garam masala and tumeric. The heat will start to roast the spices and releases the aromas. Do not let it burn otherwise it will become acrid and you'll need to start over.
3. Once the spices start to roast, add the bananas, onion, carrots, and pepper. Stir to coat the bananas and vegetables. Once the bananas hit the heat of the pan, they begin to melt. When the vegetables have heated through and the bananas have mostly dissolved, add the coconut milk.
4. Cover and let simmer for 5 - 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
5. Just before you are about to serve, return the shrimp to the pan, add the tomatoes, and sprinkle the parsley. Fold gently and plate.

Serve with rice or noodles.

Even for people who don't typically like curry, they will find the banana curry interesting and unexpected. It is not spicy and does not have a strong scent which sometimes puts people off. It has more of a Caribbean feel than an East Indian one.

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1 comment:

Calista said...

In a lovely way u put together food and travel.
Belize this time?! Hmmm. Cool.

There are some chefs who practice "fusion" cooking; mixing unusual ingredients.

On my menu, there is specific diet, but I happily take your ideas and make my (healthy) version.

I'm glad u r more active!

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