I have gone on at some length about how much I like American Masala, Suvir Saran's new cookbook. There I found this recipe, which I have now made several times, and plan to repeat often. Although I made it with the shrimp, I have also enjoyed the shrimpless leftovers with rice. And that is, essentially, the vegetarian version of this curry- just don't add the shrimp at the end. It is excellent.
It is possible, as per Mr. S., to make this recipe using a store-bought curry powder. It is very good, but much better even yet with the recommended home-made toasted spice mix instead. There is a recipe for that combo in the book. I can't be reproducing every recipe, though...and anyway, the book is well worth buying, IMO.
I have found this an excellent make-ahead company dish. You can do the sauce in the morning, or even a day ahead, leaving it in the fridge, the flavors melding happily. Then you just reheat it, and add the shrimp and chopped cilantro, cook for a few minutes until the shrimp are done, and, there you are.
I like to serve the curry to each person in a pasta bowl, big scoop of basmati rice in the middle, and a moat of shrimp and sauce all around- such as you might see a New Orleans estoufee. I think it looks nice, and it suits people who like their rice and sauce separate, as well as the mixed-together crowd. Personally, I fork or spoon a bit of each, breaking down the edge of the moat as I go. I still play with my food. It's a thing.
This is what you need, minimally adapted:
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 lb shrimp
Mix the marinade together, add the shrimp, and refrigerate. (Note: Even if you are making the sauce ahead, you should not marinate the shrimp fror much more than an hour- or the lemon juice will cook the shellfish. If that happens, and you have an unintended ceviche, which you then cook- it will go all rubbery, and spoil your curry. I learned this lesson long ago and far away. The ruined shrimp irked me for some time thereafter.)
Assemble the other stuff:
1 cup of water
1/4 cup canola oil
24 curry leaves (optional- lovely if you can get some. Mmm.)
4 little dried chilis- or to taste
1 tsp ground black pepper
3" piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 medium red onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 tsps coarse salt
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tsps ground coriander
1/2 tsp tumeric
14 oz can tomatoes, chopped (I love muir Glen Oven Roasted- I buy them by the case, when, as this year, I have been lazy, and failed to put up my own)
1 tsp sambhaar (or 1/4 tsp curry powder)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Put the water near the stove. Heat the oil, curry leaves and chilis over a medium high heat in a big sturdy pot, for just a minutes, then add the pepper, ginger, onion and salt. Cook until the onions are lovely and brown. whenever they seem like they are starting to stick, add a bit of water to loosen them. (This is a nifty cooking technique, which permits deep browning of the onions with a reasonable amount of oil. I have used this- since learning it here, to good effect in other dishes. It even helps cut down the extreme amounts oil needed for my beloved Mudjadarrah. Very clever.)
Once the onions are nice and brown, you add the garlic, coriander and tumeric, and cook for just a minute, until the garlic scent comes up, then reduce the heat, and add the tomatoes. Deglaze, and then simmer the lot at a low burble for about 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk, sambhaar or curry,and the rest of the water. . Bring to a boil. Now, you can cool and refridgerate your sauce, or continue. If you did the sauce early, bring it back to the boil. Add the shrimps, and cook until they are just done. Stir in the cilantro, and serve.
Pretty simple, no? It was, by the way, seriously assisted by a side of "Grandma Haye's skillet corn bread", which recipe, believe it or not, comes from the same cookbook. It's a new take on an old favorite, with toasted spices, and lovely fresh corn. Also, fennel slaw, which doesn't come from the book, but went down well. A keeper.