Last week, my husband and I returned to snowy Brooklyn from a two-week adventure in East Africa. Our belated honeymoon had been a truly magical trip -- full of animal sightings, expansive landscapes, gorgeous sunsets, and for the most part, great food. We ate well throughout, but it wasn’t until we got to our last stop, the Kenyan beachfront paradise, Kiwayu Safari Village, that we were truly wowed by the food.
Shop the Story
Every morning, a couple of the hotel workers would steer a little outboard into open water to pluck fresh seafood from the Indian Ocean, which was then cooked up for our lunch and dinner. In the five days that we were there, we had fresh crab, lobster, calamari, octopus, grouper, snapper, tuna, seaweed, dorade and oysters. And I'm probably forgetting a few other things.
Although food52 -- and home -- were more than 7000 miles away, I somehow had the presence of mind to ask the chef for a few of my favorite recipes. He gave me three, and I will publish them here, one at a time, over the next few weeks. While most of us don’t have the luxury of fish pulled from the ocean the very same day we're going to eat it, believe me when I say it is crucial to buy really fresh seafood for these recipes. It makes all the difference.
The first recipe is an Indian dish, a traditional Goan curry called a caldine. At the beach in Kenya, we had it with tuna, but it is often made with shrimp, which you can easily substitute here. All you need is some rice and a big salad, and you’ve got a great meal.
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional, for garnish)
Rice, for serving
1. In a medium bowl, pour 3/4 cup boiling water over the tamarind pods and set aside to soak.
2. Combine the peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a spice grinder and grind until quite fine. Add the ground almonds and grind again briefly. Add the turmeric to the spice mixture and set aside.
3. Using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon, crush the (now soft) tamarind pods to release the pulp, stirring to combine with the water, which will turn cloudy and sort of pinkish-brown. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl and discard the pods. Set aside.
4. Heat the oil in a large, wide sauté pan over medium heat, add the onion, garlic, ginger and a large pinch of salt and cook gently for about 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Stir in the spices and cook for another couple of minutes, until quite fragrant.
5. Add the coconut milk, chiles, 2/3 cup of the tamarind water, and the lime juice and simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt the tuna pieces lightly and add them to the pan, reducing the heat to low. Simmer until the tuna is just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes, turning the pieces once halfway through so they cook evenly. Taste and add more salt if needed, and garnish with the cilantro. Serve with rice.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).