From Mumbai to Buenos Aires – Indian Food at My Spice
Article by Kevin Vaughn.
Samosa. Tandoori. Masala. Curry. When was the last time you heard those words uttered in a sentence without wanting to punch whoever was humble bragging about all the delicious things they ate on their most recent trip to the US? For me at least, after nearly five years living in Buenos Aires, Indian dishes have all but disappeared from my culinary vocabulary. And it’s a damn shame.
The point being, it’s not every day that you are invited into a Mumbai natives home to learn a cherished family recipe. So when you read an advertisement for My Spice, a small business that offers homemade Indian food for viandas, events and cooking classes, you make the call. And when you’re told, “Come over and I’ll teach you how to make Shrimp Curry with Raw Mango,” you squeal. You squeal loudly.
Preeti Salkar, founder and chef of My Spice, welcomed me into her Palermo Hollywood apartment on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Salkar arrived to Buenos Aires four years ago with her husband Ketan, who was transferred to Argentina for work. The Salkar’s never adopted the local palette and told me that 90% of their meals are Indian. I tried to hide my envy with smiles.
She grew up on her mother’s homemade meals but never quite developed an interest in cooking herself. Her husband, who was born to eat, motivated her to learn to replicate his favorite meals. What began as a loving gesture for her husband turned into her own passion for cooking.
Preeti became a mother (their little daughter is trilingual!) and joined a local mommy group. She began sharing her dishes and was soon inviting her new friends into her home to teach them how to prepare traditional Indian food. The reception was so good that she opened My Spice, which offers a huge variety of homemade Indian food to-go. Her menu includes familiar dishes like Butter Chicken and Tandoori to plates I am excited to discover like Kheema and Hirwa Masala.
The dish she wanted to show me was her mother-in-law’s signature dish: Shrimp Curry with Raw Mango. She had me at shrimp. And Mango. And, well, all of it honestly.
To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- 100 grams of shrimp
- 1 mango, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cups of shredded coconut
- 8 – 12 dried red chilis
- 3 tablespoons of coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground tamarind
- 1 teaspoon of uncooked rice
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- Ginger, about an inch chopped
- 3 – 4 green chillies
- 3 cups water
- Handful of finely minced cilantro
- 1 medium sized onion, finely minced
- 4 – 5 tablespoons oil
- Salt to taste
- 4 – 5 dried kokum if available (this is an dried Indian fruit you are likely to have to bring from the States)
Wash and devein the shrimp. Place in a bowl and mix in a tablespoon of salt. Wash with water, and add an additional tablespoon of salt and set aside.
In a blender add coconut, coriander, rice, tamarind, turmeric, ginger, half of the onion and dried red chillies. Add some water and begin to grind, adding additional water as needed. You will blend until you have a very fine paste.
In a pan roast the green chillies until it becomes fragrant and then cover with a lid and continue to cook for one minute. Add chillies to the blender and blend to a fine paste, continue adding water as necessary.
Heat oil in another pan and add the remaining half of the chopped onion and fry for one minute. Incorporate cilantro and raw mango and stir well. Finally add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp gives off some liquid. Add the paste and a little bit more water and bring to a boil. Bring to a boil, add kokum if you have it, and continue to boil for one minute before removing from heat. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot over rice.
Flavor. I couldn’t believe that this dish that we whipped up in less than a half hour developed such full and dynamic flavor. With that first spoonful there is a slight sweetness, and for a second I was disappointed by the lack of kick, but then a robust spice catches the back of your tongue off guard. Preeti served the hot curry over cold rice and the contrasting temperatures added an extra complexity. Preeti asked me if I wanted to take some home, obvio. I let the curry sit overnight to let the flavors get to know one another a bit better and the next afternoon the mixture of slight sweetness and savory were that much more notable.
You can access Preeti’s entire menu on her Facebook page. This is the perfect meal to order ahead for a dinner party with friends, as if you actually need an excuse.