Masala Shrimp ‘N’ Grits
From Chef Aarti Sequeira
“Don’t get me wrong, grits are pretty great on their own. But the truly exceptional thing about grits is that they are a open canvas for your own story. So imagine this dish as the story of what happens, culinarily speaking, when an Indian girl falls in love with a dashing Southern man who has a thing for shrimp and grits,” says Chef Aarti Sequeira, Host of 10 Minute Meals on OWNZONES and author of Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul. “I can’t imagine doing grits without some kind of cheese in them, and some crème fraiche. There’s a place here in LA that makes them with big shards of slab bacon and that’s pretty much my idea of a perfect Saturday morning, as long as I get to take a nap afterwards!” says Sequeira.
- 1 lb. shrimp (ideally under 15 count), fresh or frozen and thawed, peeled with the tails on
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 Serrano chile, seeded and sliced into thin half moons
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3/4 cup chopped ripe tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and soft stems
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup coarse ground cornmeal (a.k.a grits)
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 cup)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
-In a bowl, combine the shrimp, turmeric, lemon juice and salt and marinade for 20 minutes at room temperature. Warm the oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until simmering. Drain the shrimp of any liquid and carefully place each on e in the skillet, ensuring that they don’t touch one another (cook in batches if necessary). Cook until a charred crust forms on the bottom, a couple of minutes, then flip and repeat on the other side. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the skillet.
-In a small bow, stir together garlic, ginger, paprika, coriander, cumin, turmeric, garam masala and 1/2-cup water. Set aside. Warm the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until simmering.
Add the onions and Serrano to the skillet, along with a generous pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just brown around the edges, about 5-7 minutes. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring nearly continuously, until the onions are more comprehensively brown and smell sweet
Reduce heat to medium and add the garlic-spice mixture to the pan, along with the tomato paste and tomatoes. Stir together well, and keep stirring until the whole mixture comes together.
Cook for 5 more minutes, until the tomatoes turn almost mushy, the mixture darkens in color and holds together as one mass (i.e. it doesn’t spread out to the sides of the pan when you pull it into the center). Season with honey and 3/4-teaspoon kosher salt.
Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups water and simmer gently for 5 minutes, with the lid ajar. Add the shrimp back to the pan, reduce the heat to low, cover and allow to warm through, about 5 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro
Bring the water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Pour in the grits, give them a good stir and let them come back to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to as low as possible. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes to make sure the bottom isn’t burning. Taste the grits to make sure they’re tender (if they’re not, add a splash more water, cover and cook for 5 minutes more)
Beat in the butter, stir in the cheese and season with pepper. Place warm grits on serving dish and top with masala and shrimp mixture.
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