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ISO: Tandoori Shrimp Masala

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've been trying to find a recipe for the Indian dish Tandoori Shrimp Masala, found on most of the Indian menus in the local area (Kansas City metro). All of the recipes I can find are mainly marinades that have you then grilling the shrimp. The dish I'm looking for actually has a sauce that is probably from the yogurt. The presentation I've usually seen has it served over basmati. I've experimented a little with the recipes I've got and have found on the internet but the yogurt / spice mixture doesn't seem to be right so I'm pretty sure there's another version of this recipe that includes the sauce. Any help is greatly appreciated!
post #2 of 15
Assuming from the name of the dish, this isn't an authentically Indian Dish. Rather it's a further alteration of another inauthentic dish called Chicken Tikka Masala.

Try this recipe substituting shrimp for the chicken. Adjust cooking times downward to compensate as well.

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe | Rasa Malaysia: Malaysian and Asian Food, Cooking, and Recipes

It too is grilled, which is the standard substitute technique for tandoori for those of us without such a blessed oven. It is then combined with a tomato gravy and served with or over rice as in the photos.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
That does look a lot closer than what I was finding. I confess that I'm not as up on my Indian food as I am other Asian styles and I wasn't able to make the connection between the Tandoori Shrimp Masala and the Chicken Tikka Masala, mainly because I was focusing on the tandoori aspect (I'd love one of those ovens myself but the kitchen already needs a sub-kitchen just for all the toys). I'll give that a shot but I suspect the seasonings may also need to be adapted a bit as I've usually tasted a different range of spices in the Chicken Tikka Masala than the shrip dish. But it's certainly more to go on that I'd had before! Thank you so much!

I love the story of the creation of the Chicken Tikki Masala as well. It reminds me of the first time I every took my parents to a Chinese resturaunt in Iowa (we had a LOT of really good Asian resturaunts in the late 70's to late 80's due to the state having taken in a large number of refugees from the 70's 'boat people' crisis, which also unfortunately led to market saturation and a lot of turn over). This place was a little house in Norwalk, Iowa (childhood home of the current 'Superman' actor, Brandon Routh). he family converted the living room and dining room into the lobby and main dining room, respectively and lived in the rest of the house. My Dad was a little skeptical but had some fantastic beef with broccoli. His only compaint: he wished he had some bread to soak up the gravy with. I am mortified as this had become a favorite haunt of mine (the owner's wife kept trying to find me girlfriends because I cam in alone a lot) but before I can even mention the incredible faux pas my Father had just commited, the owner was right back at the table with a load of bread. I miss that place and especially that kind of service. I'd give a digit (too cheap to give a whole arm) to find a place like that again.
post #4 of 15
Hmmm. Tikka is one thing and masala another. From what you've said in your first post and in your response to Phil, it seems that Indian restaurants in your neck of the woods like to dress shrimp tikka in a masala type sauce.

Cooking tikka requires a marinating your meat in a yogurt based marinade with plenty of paprika for color, and some relatively mild spices for a relatively long time -- then cooking with a mix of high direct and convection heat -- either contact as against the wall of a tandoor (which you don't have), or over a charcoal or gas grill (which you should). It can be done with any meat or fish; chicken tikka is by no means the only or the original. In fact, if I had to bet, I'd put my money on lamb or goat as the ace meat. But, I digress. So... shrimp, tikka marinated, skewered and grilled.

Throughout most of the United States and the UK, a masala is a relatively mild curry often enriched and thickened with coconut milk; although strictly speaking masala is just a spice mixture -- what we'd call "curry powder," the most famous of which (outside the US) is garam masala.

It's not exactly an Indian/Pakistani thing but the range of spice levels is often synonymous with types. Starting with mulligitawny as the mildest, then masala, then vindaloo, and finally phaal as the hottest. Depending where you are, the words can have additional meanings. For insance, vindaloo can mean vinegary as well as hot -- in the Goanese style. One thing that is consistent is that a phaal is way too hot for anyone who's not a total chili-head. Consider yourself warned.
To make a masla sauce of the sort I think you're looking for, you would fry some very thinly sliced onions until limp, adding some powdered spices (or a paste), and cooking the spices and onions down for awhile; adding some garlic, and some stock and perhaps a few other aromatics and vegetalbes like peppers; letting it reduce; then perhaps some coconut milk and allowing it to further reduce and thicken. FYI, Most of the thickening is actually caused by the onions dissolving and the spices forming an emulsion. Finally, you'd either add the shrimp and allow it to just heat through in the sauce, or plate the shrimp (perhaps over rice) and saucing them on the plate.

Cutting to the chase, it's barbecued shrimp in curry sauce.

If this sounds at all like what you're looking for, and you want me to write a recipe for you, it could happen. Worth having some discussion first though, to find out what spices and other Indian/Pakistani supplies are available to you in the heartland.

Making sense?
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Making perfect sense. I suspected there had to be more of a difference than just substituting shrimp for the chicken. The chicken tikka masala that I've had in the past (or stolen from my wife's plate when she used the restroom) is a spicier dish in that the spices seem to take precedence over the flavor of the chicken. The tandoori shrimp masala tends to have more of a balance between the natural flavor of the shrimp and the spices used. The mixture does wind up a pinkish-orange but again, a lighter hue than that of the chicken tikka masala. I definitely think you're on the right track with the onions and other ingredients creating a lot of the body of the sauce through emulsification. I do think there is at least some cooking of the mixture with the shrimp as the flavors just seem to work in such a way that I'm not sure you'd get if you made them separately. I could be completely wrong there but it just really tastes like that to me. Might have to go on another fact finding mission to my local Indian resturaunt. :bounce: Just 'cause I like to make a lot of this stuff at home doesn't mean I can't do my part make sure they stay in business!

As for availability here in the great heartland, we've got all kinds of ethnic grocery stores in metro Kansas City. We've got quite an Asian population, including Indian, so finding the required spices shouldn't be too difficult. Some possible substitutions that might be found at a chain grocery could come in handy as well, if only to road test both versions for people who might not be as lucky in other areas. I've frankly been amazed at the diversity of specialty / ethnic grocers we have in the area. I mean, this is Kansas City, after all, a city where most people think food diversity means you have your choice of rib joints. Which we do. Which are awesome. :D

I'd love to see an actual recipe if you'd like to write it down. I've not got enough experience with Indian style cooking to competently freelance with it just yet. Not that I'm usually stopped by that fact.
post #6 of 15
2 pounds whole, jumbo shrimp
1 recipe Tikka Marinade
1 recipe Seafood Masala Sauce

1/3 - 1/2 cup yogurt (regular -- not lowfat or nonfat)
Juice of 1/2 - 1 lemon
1 seeded, minced, jalapeno
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs garlic paste
1 tbs ginger paste
1 tbs paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamon

1 - 2 onions
2 tbs butter
2 tbs vegetable oil
2 tbs garam masala (curry powder) or Madras Curry powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, about
1-1/2 tbs tomato paste, about
1 tbs garlic paste
1 tbs ginger paste
1 cup shrimp stock
1 cup bottle clam juice
1 cup (canned) coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided

Shell the prawns, and reserve the shells.

To the extent that it's possible, roast seeds and grind your own dry spices.

Mix all of the ingredients of the marinade, and marinate your prawns in the refrigerator for a minimum of four hours, overnight if possible.

Make the shrimp stock by putting the prawn shells in a quart of water, bringing to the boil and simmering for 45 minutes.

Slice the onion for the masala as thinly as possible -- as for a lyonnaise. Use a mandoline or a food processor if you're knife skills are less than expert.

Preheat a skillet, add the oil and butter, and when hot, add the onions to the pan and saute them until very limp. Stir in the curry powder and other seasonings, continue to saute. The powder will act something like a roux. Add the tomato paste, cook it until the color darkens, so the "raw" comess off the paste. Note: The amount of tomato paste may be varied to control the final color of the sauce. 1 tbs will leave this amount a pale pink, while 2 tbs will definitely push it to the red. Similarly 1 tbs will hint at tomato, while 2 tbs will make it a tomato sauce.

Lower the heat, add the garlic and ginger pastes. Add the shrimp stock and clam juice, and reduce the heat so the sauce is at a simmer. Simmer with the lid off for about 20 minutes. Add the coconut milk, simmer another 20 minutes, the sauce should thicken. Taste for seasoning and adjust for salt, pepper and cayenne. (The amount of cayenne in this recipe is on the shy side -- always season for your least tolerant guest).

Meanwhile prepare your grill (preferably charcoal) to cook hot.

Remove the prawns from the refrigerator, wipe them off, and thread them on skewers. Grill, cooking until just barely done -- no more than five minutes total.

Plate the prawns, still skewered. Then sauce with the seafood masala sauce, and garnish with the remaining cilantro. Or, remove the prawns from their skewers, add them to the masala sauce and plate as a "curry."

Note: I'm not making any claims about the authenticity or lack of authenticity of these recipes. Indian/Pakistani food is idiosyncratic by region and family, and ad hoc as well. The recipe relies on a mix of "French" and Indian technique -- although Indians might use a special kind of iron wok instead of a frying pan and possibly a tandoor.


PS. The above recipe is original. If you feel you must share it, please attribute it to me, Boar D. Laze. I'd appreciate it if you could also mention my (eventually) forthcoming book, COOK FOOD GOOD: American Cooking and Technique for Beginners and Intermediates.
post #7 of 15
Any particular reason you give curry powder in parentheses for garam masala? They're not particularly similar in my view.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #8 of 15
Tandoori is the cooking of meat in a Tandoor or clay fire heated oven.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
post #9 of 15
As I understand them, neither term has any actual, defined meaning in terms of particular ingredients, so it's hard to say. "Garam masala" translates simply as "hot spice blend," and "curry powder," is an Anglo-Indian thing which means whatever you want it to. A commercial "Madras" curry powder such as Sun brand (available in regular supermarkets) will work fine; so will a "garam masala" already packed by or for an Indian market -- or for that matter, Penzeys, Spice Island, or whatever.

As always, when giving directions teaching Indian food, when I'm not too sure about the level for spice tolerance, I try to keep things reasonably simple and neither too spicy nor to difficult to shop for. I suppose I could have added "fenugreek" or even crumbled kharee leaves, but it seemed to me that would be raising the bar too high for a first foray into making Indian food at home -- even though a masala without methi is no masala at all (to me).

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
I appreciate the restraint on the spicing. While the dish definitely has some spice to it, it isn't a particularly 'hot' dish, which is why I happen to like it. The flavors combine to make something very tasty instead of front loading spicy heat that really keeps you from getting the most of the flavors involved. I've always had a problem with the idea that some dishes should be turned into an endurance test. If the dish is supposed to be spicy then by all means, make it spicy but don't go into a Thai restaurant and automatically order everything at maximum spice just because you think it makes you look cool. On the other hand, I can count exactly 2 Chinese restaurants that can make a Szechuan beef that isn't completely bland. I practically have to hold the wait staff at gunpoint to get the chef to add some red pepper (which it should have in the first place).

Thanks for the recipe - I'll report back on how it goes! And I will definitely give you all credit and plug the book if / when I pass it along or if mention of it turn up in a piece. Can't wait to give this one a spin! :chef:
post #11 of 15
'Indian' foods are very much part of the British foodscene and have been since the late 1950s. Today, many of the 'Indian' restaurants are actually owned/cheffed by Bangladeshi nationals, not Indians from India ;)

Much of our food, even from Victorian times has echoes of the British raj - eg the infamous mulligatawny soup and the even more infamous 'Brown Windsor' and for, instance, the old British breakfast standby (now usually cooked as a supper dish), kedgeree - rice, flaked smoked haddock, hardboiled egg and a curry mix.

One of my favourite places in London is Benares, owned by a michelin-starred chef, Atul Kochhar. Benares Restaurant and Bar, Mayfair, London

Locally in Edinburgh, Tony Singh who owns Oloroso - a really great restaurant - opened ROTI, which used to be centrally based in Rose Street, but he moved it to a more business-based area. It is a good Indian restaurant - but I think it suffers slightly from its own success. Tony Singh was a chef on the RY Britannia and worked in some of the best restaurants in the country before opening Oloroso.
Tony Singh - Oloroso & Roti | VisitScotland | Eat Scotland
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Sounds like most Chinese restaurants in the US. I know of a great one locally that is owned by Koreans with Vietnamese wait staff and Hispanics & Russians in the kitchen. The place is usually packed with Chinese families, who love the place. We've definitely reached the point where it doesn't matter where you come from so long as you have someone that trains you well and shares the recipes. Which is great for me because if I could only make my own 'ethnic' food, I'd be living on burgers, potatoes and corn. Not bad for a while but I definitely prefer some variety! :roll:
post #13 of 15
If you have a chance, look for any cookbook by Madhur Jaffrey. I started my Indian cooking via some of her books.
post #14 of 15
That's one misconception about curries - that they have to blow your head off. They are more spicy than hot, with a clever blend of spices to make the dish delicious and very aromatic.

Some dishes you want hot, but some should be enjoyed for their depth of flavour without the sweat factor :)

Chilli seems to me to be a more south east asian flavour, while indian dishes are more redolent with spice.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks - that's a great summation. I think the problem I've had with a lot of Indian dishes I've had over the years is that there seemed to be a philosophy of "if a little spice is good, a whole lot must be better" while cooking them. That was one of the things I liked about the Tandoori Shrimp Masala every time I've had it. I will say that any place I've had the dish, it has been very close to the same so there must be some consensus on its preparation. I can't tell everyone how much I've appreciated all the input on this topic. I've literally been trying to get a workable recipe for this dish for years. My contacts among the Indian chefs at the restaurants are minuscule so I've never been comfortable enough with any of them to ask. Thank! :bounce:
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