Goan-Style Mussels (Thisra) 2.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Dinner in Minutes Feb 26, 2014

Long before there were takeout tikkas and 15-minute Indian recipes online, Madhur Jaffrey was making the food of her native country accessible for English and American home cooks. The Delhi-born, British-trained actor has published at least 29 cookbooks since 1973. She has educated us about the elements of an Indian meal, how to "paint" with spices and how to soothe and stimulate the palate with yogurt and chutneys.

This dish, rooted in the small western India state of Goa, predates the grocery-store availability of curry paste. The recipe calls for a handful of ingredients and just two ground spices. Jaffrey specified fresh coconut, but we found unsweetened, dried coconut is a suitable substitute and a time-saver. It becomes moist and chewy while the mussels steam to tenderness. Besides the coconut's boost of texture, we also liked its barely perceptible sweetness -- as opposed to the more recent trend of relying on canned coconut milk to fulfill that flavor profile.

Serve with nan, and prepare to slurp.


Servings:
2

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 2 servings

Ingredients
  • 1/2-inch piece ginger root
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 pounds shell-on mussels
  • 1 or 2 small yellow onions
  • 1 small serrano chili pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked/dried coconut

Directions

Peel the ginger and coarsely chop; transfer to a mini food processor or blender. Coarsely chop the garlic, then add it to the ginger, along with the cumin, turmeric, salt (to taste) and 2 tablespoons of the water. Puree to form a paste.

Rinse the mussels and clean them as needed, discarding any stringy bits (beards) that might be attached. Do not use any mussels that have opened and will not close when tapped.

Cut the onions (to taste) into small dice.

Seed the serrano, if desired, then cut it crosswise into very thin slices.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onions and stir to coat. Cook for about 8 minutes or until almost translucent, stirring occasionally.

Pour in the ginger-garlic paste and the serrano pepper. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the coconut and the remaining water.

Increase the heat to medium-high; once the mixture starts to bubble, add the mussels. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 6 to 10 minutes.

Uncover; discard any mussels that remain closed.

Divide among individual bowls. Serve hot.

Rate it

Recipe Source

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking" (Barron's, 1982).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.