Lynda Balslev: Satisfy your wanderlust with this fragrant curry |

Lynda Balslev: Satisfy your wanderlust with this fragrant curry

It’s that time of year again. As the holiday season winds down, the reality of winter sets in, and with that comes a bout of culinary wanderlust. Over-sated and over-stimulated with the goodies and activity of Christmas past, it’s now time for comfort and warmth.

Satisfying, fragrant soups and stews, heady with spice, tease the senses and hint of sunny far-flung destinations. You might call it escapism or a craving for carefree ease and simplicity, but I can’t think of a better way to greet January head-on.

This curry is rich, bright and bursting with flavor. It’s also easy to make and extremely versatile. You can add additional vegetables to the stew, such as carrot and cauliflower. Be sure to taste a small piece of the jalapeno before adding it to the stew, since they can vary in heat. Remember that their heat is concentrated in the membranes of the pepper, so remove or include the membranes to suit your taste. A squeeze of lime juice is essential to brightening the stew and giving it a little kick of acidity.

Best of all, this dish can be prepared in 30 minutes, which leaves you just enough time to cook some rice to serve with the stew.

Shrimp Curry

Active Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 green jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped

2 tablespoons grated fresh peeled ginger

1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder

1 (28-ounce) can chopped Italian plum tomatoes

1 1/2 cups coconut milk

1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise, each quarter sliced in 1/2-inch pieces

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 to 2 teaspoons brown sugar (optional)

Cooked basmati rice for serving

Lime wedges for serving

Heat the oil in a deep skillet or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the curry powder and continue to cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.

Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and zucchini. Bring to a boil and simamer until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and cook until they turn pink and are just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in the 1/4 cup cilantro, lime juice, salt and black pepper and taste for seasoning. If desired, add 1 to 2 teaspoons brown sugar to balance the flavor.

Ladle into bowls with cooked basmati rice. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area, where she lives with her Danish husband, two children, a cat and a dog. Lynda studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and worked as a personal chef, culinary instructor, and food writer in Switzerland and Denmark. Her favorite activities include hiking, cooking dinners for her friends and family, and planning her next travel destination.

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