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Fiery, fragrant shrimp from NYC's spiciest chef

At Junoon, chef Vikas Khanna crafts classic flavors with an emphasis on spices (which are ground fresh every morning in the restaurant's "spice room") using cooking techniques from around India. His recipe for piri piri shrimp (a traditional Goan dish) will put your own spice rack to good use. A legion of aromatics–including mustard seed, cumin and cinnamon–blend together to create a deeply flavored sauce that coats the shrimp and fills your kitchen with an incredible aroma. Curry leaves lend a bright, lemony note that balances the sauce's earthy flavors. Perfect as a pre-dinner bite, this dish could make the standard shrimp cocktail jealous for a douse of spice.

Recipe adapted from Vikas Khanna, Junoon, New York City

Piri Piri Shrimp
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A spice-laden shrimp appetizer from the spiciest chef in NYC
Servings
4
to 6 appetizer servings
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
  • ½ medium red onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon ground clove
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup canned tomato sauce
  • 1 pound (16 to 20 count) extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 to 4 fresh or dried curry leaves, thinly sliced
Directions
  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the mustard seeds and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until they begin to crackle, about 1 minute. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened slightly, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes longer.
  2. Add the cumin, turmeric, garam masala, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, salt, sugar, vinegar and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and, when the mixture is cool enough, puree in a blender or food processor until smooth; set aside.
  4. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shrimp and curry leaves and sauté, stirring and shaking the pan, until the shrimp are no longer transparent. Add the reserved sauce, reduce the heat to low and cook until the shrimp is just cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
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