Secrets to Super Simple Meals 


Recipes from Iron Chef Competition: Indian Rice Fritter and Shrimp Curry

4 Mins read

Back in February, Michael, my friend Gwen and I competed in the university Iron Chef competition, where we had a few days to plan a two course menu involving various rices. We all love Indian food so that’s the route we went. Then we had one hour and two burners to prepare the dishes for four judges with the help of campus chef Jeremy Elmore. We wished we placed better than third, but we were very proud of the food we made and think you’d like it, too. The menu:

  • Vegetable and Brown Basmati Fritter with Three Sauces: Curry-Lime Yogurt, Coconut-Mango Chutney and Chili-Garlic Tomato Paste
  • Gulf Shrimp in Coconut-Tamarind Curry Sauce with Red Himalayan Rice Pilaf and Cucumber Raita

Indian Rice and Vegetable Fritters with Three Sauces

Inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s Indian fritters with potatoes and vegetables, I came up with this for the Indian-themed menu we wanted for Battle Rice. The fritters are okay on their own, but each sauce provides a different flavor element. Together, the whole thing sings. I’m really proud of it.

  • 1/2 cup basmati rice (We used brown basmati because it’s what they had at the competition)
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 small zucchini
  • half a large yellow or white onion, or 3/4 of a small one
  • handful of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • Turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • inch of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • Salt and pepper

Cook 1/2 cup of rice as you normally would (stovetop, rice cooker, etc). When done, allow to cool. (In the competition, we put ours on plastic wrap over ice so this only took a few minutes.)

Coarsely grate carrots, zucchini and onion, then squeeze through cheese cloth or press against fine mesh to get out moisture. Add to large bowl, along with all other ingredients and mix. Don’t be too skimpy with the salt. All the sauces will complement the fritter.

Add more flour if necessary. Mixture should be wet, but capable of being formed into small patties.

Patties, about 2-2 1/2 inches in diameter and less than an inch thick, can be pan-fried or deep fried. At home, I did them in a cast-iron skillet, and I liked that I could use the spatula to form the patties better in the pan. In the competition, we used a small electric deep frier.

Serve with one-to-one ratios of curry-lime yogurt and coconut-mango chutney, and just a tad of chili-garlic tomato paste.

(Side note: the first time I tested this, I used seeded cucumber instead of zucchini and added peas too. Not bad.)

Curry Lime Yogurt

Inspired by Smitten Kitchen

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • juice from 1/2 a lime, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste

The levels here are a little iffy because it depends on the yogurt you use. The first time I used low-fat Dannon, but added too much curry powder and it tasted chalky. Thereafter I used full-fat Dannon, and small amounts of curry so the yogurt was white with flecks, not yellow. (I prefer other brands to the taste of the Dannon yogurt, but it’s what we had.) You can’t mess up this recipe as long as you have extra of all the ingredients because you can make it more sour or sweet or curry-y to your own liking.

Coconut-Mango Chutney

Idea pooled from several mango chutney recipes. I experimented with mint too, but everyone preferred the crisp flavor of the cilantro here.

  • 1 large ripe mango
  • 1 tablespoon grated coconut
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon or less ground cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons whole yellow mustard seeds

Peel and seed mango, then puree with coconut, ginger, sugar and cayenne. Taste and adjust flavors as necessary. This can depend on the ripeness and variety of mango, whether your coconut is sweetened, and individual preferences. Then mix (do not puree) with cilantro and mustard seeds. The cilantro gives it a fresh flavor, and the mustard seeds give it texture if nothing else. I don’t know how much taste they have.

If you make more of this, it’s really good with tortilla chips, too.

Chili-Garlic Tomato Paste

Inspired by a recipe from Mangoes and Curry Leaves found here.

  • 7 dried cayenne peppers
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste or however much you want to use to tame the heat
  • salt

Grind dried peppers, ginger, garlic, tomato paste and salt in food processor or using a mortar and pestle. Heat oil in a small pan until it is almost smoking. Add spice mix. Cook and stir for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

It’s potent so just a tad is needed on the fritter. It is also good spread on sandwiches. You can keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for at least a month. I just finished the last of it a week ago in a pita with melted gouda.

It hurts me a little to look at messy sauce in this photo, but I promise we wiped it before we served it to the judges.

Shrimp in Coconut-Tamarind Curry

Original recipe from Madhur Jaffrey

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined medium-sized uncooked shrimp
  • salt and pepper

In a bowl, combine 1 1/4 cups water with the cayenne pepper, paprika, turmeric, cumin, coriander garlic and ginger. Mix well.

Put the spice mixture into a pan and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to meduim-low and simmer for 10 minutes. The sauce should reduce and thicken. Add the coconut milk, salt, tamarind paste and bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp and simmer, stirring now and then, until they turn opaque and are just cooked through.

This had just the right amount of heat for me, but if too spicy, add more coconut milk and tamarind. Serve with basmati rice and cucumber raita. (We actually did a mix of white basmati rice and Red Himalayan rice that was available at the competition.)

Cucumber Raita

Idea pooled from multiple raita recipes

  • 1 large English cucumber, seeded (Peel if using a big waxy one)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • small handful of fresh cilantro
  • juice from half a lemon
  • salt and pepper

There are so many variations of raita, but this is closest to what Gwen made in the competition. You can grate the cucumber and mix with all ingredients, or puree the whole thing as we did for Iron Chef. This side is cool and a little salty, and goes well with the sweet-sour-spicy shrimp curry.

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