How to Make Spicy Shrimp and Red Lentils
Last night we prepared this Indian style shrimp and lentils dish from one of our Food Network magazines. It was delicious, easy to prepare and a great weekday meal. There is a little prep but no more than 15 minutes alone or half that if you are cooking with a friend or spouse or one of the kids.
One of the ingredients in this dish is Garam Masala. You may be familiar with this popular spice from curry dishes. The name means “hot spice” and is a blend of spices often including cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom and cumin but varies depending on what region you are in.
Important to note, Garam Masala is added at the last step of cooking or it can turn bitter when cooked too long. And a little goes a long way. This recipe calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons of Garam Masala.
Also, like most spices, they loose flavor and intensity over time. If you are planning on using a container of Garam Masala that’s been in your cabinet for 3 years, you may want to toss it and purchase new jar. Or better yet, how about making your own with spices on hand?
This recipe has one of those dreaded “meanwhile” instructions. Halfway through the recipe they say “Meanwhile, toss the shrimp with …. Let it stand 10 minutes.”
I’m suggesting you start with the shrimp after prepping all the ingredients so they’re ready to saute while the lentils are cooking.
Spicy Shrimp and Lentils Recipe
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 large shallot finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger peeled and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger peeled and finely chopped
- 2 plum tomatoes cored and chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons Garam Masala
- salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 cup dried red lentils
- 1 ½ pounds shrimp peeled and cleaned
- 3 cups baby spinach washed
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut cream
- fresh cilantro chopped for garnish
Season the Shrimp
- In a bowl big enough to hold all the shrimp, combine the teaspoon of fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon Garam Masala, a little salt & pepper with the shrimp. Let this all stand for 10 minutes while you start the lentils.
Cook the Lentils
- Start by heating a large saute (frying) pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan.
- When it melts, add the shallot, garlic and 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger. Give it a stir and saute until the shallot starts to become translucent - 2 to 3 minutes.Important: Don't let the garlic burn or it will become bitter. Make sure you watch, stir and lower heat if you think the garlic is starting to burn.
- Add the tomatoes. Season with salt & pepper and continue cooking for 3 minutes.
- Add the lentils, stir to combine with the other ingredients and add 3 cups of water (chicken or fish stock if you want to add even more flavor to this dish). Bring the liquid to a simmer being careful not to let it boil. Cook for about 12 minutes until the lentils start to tender and the mixture starts to thicken up.
- Add ½ teaspoon of the Garam Marsala and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Add the spinach and coconut cream to the lentils and stir to combine. The spinach will wilt into the lentils. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
- Divide the lentil mixture in bowls and transfer the shrimp to each bowl. Top with a little fresh cilantro and serve.