11 February 2014

Weeknight Coconut Masala

The other day I was having a long belated conversation with one of my favorite punxs (a.k.a. college girlfriends) regarding healthy weeknight eating.  She was trying to get off the fast food track and back onto the healthy homemade route.  A task that is often much easier said that done, especially when you're looking some delicious ethnic comfort food.  I don't know about you, but I have been having serious Indian cravings this winter.  The extended cold and overbearing piles of snow make me jones for the spice and heat of garam masala, cayenne pepper and golden turmeric.  Factor in that this is a make-ahead sauce that can be kept ready for action in the refrigerator and you've got a weeknight meal that can't be beat.

The Olympics just came on so I'm going to keep this one brief.  After all, it's one of the very few times we actually use our TV antenna and the hubs is crossing his fingers for couple figure skating (remember folks, he's Canadian).

This coconut masala is my absolute momentary favorite.  It's as if someone has taken the pungent, spiced heat of an Indian sauce and kissed it with just a touch of sweet coconut milk.  That little addition is a complete mouth-delight, and one I've thought long about trying.  The hubs actually came up with the idea, a very well played can of coconut milk in our ongoing battle against our overstocked pantry.  We like to make a full batch on the weekends and save half in a jar in the refrigerator.  Just pour over a batch of freshly cooked shrimp, chicken or lamb during the week and you have one killer weeknight entree.  The batch photographed on this evening is chicken cauliflower, super hearty and delicious.  But our favorite is still shrimp!

Masala always requires a side of rice.  We like to use brown basmati but feel free to sub in your favorite.  And no Indian dinner is complete without a side of homemade garlic naan.  But don't be afraid to throw in a little extra veg by serving this over a combination of grilled kale and rice.

Great the first time around...equally as good the second time around.  Man I love that in in a dish.

Weeknight Coconut Masala (serves 4)

Coconut Masala Sauce
  • 1 tbs butter
  •  1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup fat-free greek yogurt
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2/3 c cilantro, chopped

Grilled Lemon Shrimp
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 20 raw shrimp, peeled & deveined (alternatively 2 cups diced chicken or lamb)
  • 1 1/2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 c brown or basmati rice & garlic naan, for serving

Place the butter in a medium-large pan and place over medium heat. When the pan is warm, add onions and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. While cooking the onions, combine the tomatoes (with juices) and yogurt in a food processor and puree until smooth.  When the onions are soft, remove the pan from heat and stir in the garlic, garam masala, curry powder, tumeric and cayenne.  Let onion and spice mixture cool for 3-5 minutes before adding to the yogurt/tomato mixture in the food processor.  Puree until smooth.  Season with a large pinch each of salt and pepper, to taste.  Add the coconut milk and cilantro and pulse to combine.

Heat oil in a large shallow pan over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp and sauté until almost cooked through, about 2 minutes (chicken or lamb may take more time).  Reduce the heat to medium and add the green onions, lemon juice and prepared masala.  Bring to a simmer and cook until shrimp until completely cooked through (another 1-2 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over brown rice with a side of garlic naan.  

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