Transport your taste buds with Lucinda Scala Quinn's Indian meal, which takes just 20 minutes to make.
If you Google "curry in a hurry," you will find restaurants by that name in every city across the country. But don't call for takeout. With some shortcuts and think-ahead shopping, you can hurry up your own curry and have it on the table in the time it takes to cook the rice.
The main dish is a spicy shrimp curry. Traditional Indian meals come with an array of exotic chutneys, pickles, and breads, so I always think about the play of flavors, textures, and temperatures when constructing a menu. Make one condiment -- coconut-cilantro chutney -- and for others, turn to the international section of your grocery store or a specialty-food shop.
I keep a bag of shrimp in the freezer -- it's no less fresh than the shrimp you buy from a fishmonger, since almost all shrimp sold fresh has been previously frozen. Okra, known in Indian cooking as "bhindi," is one of the few vegetables I buy frozen. It marries beautifully with the shrimp but can be swapped for sliced green beans. Yogurt is a cool foil to our curry in a classic drink called a "lassi"; this version gets its richness from pistachios and a hint of spice from fresh ginger.
So, take a short trip to the East: Rip off a piece of flatbread and gather the faraway flavors in one delicious, hot, cool, soft, crunchy, savory-sweet bite.
The Spice Is Right
Serve this meal buffet-style, offering condiments in small bowls or straight out of the jar, as with this mango chutney. Indian bread, called "naan," is widely available, but pita is good, too.
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