Monday, January 3, 2011

So... You Want To Be My Shrimp Vindaloo. Alans' Birthday/New Years Eve Bash.

    New Years Eve is always a puzzlement at our house. On the one hand, it's the night that everyone dreads..."Are we having enough fun yet????" The night that no night can live up to... ever. On the other hand, it's also a couple of days after Alans' birthday. Poor Alan sandwiched between Christmas and New Years. Every year we try to make his birthday special and the best way seems be to have a big New Years Eve/Birthday Party for him.
   Sometimes we'd do it outside, but after going to a very good restaurant here in Sonoma with a bunch of friends for the late seating New Years Eve Dinner, and planning a hoot of a night, we found ourselves being served dessert by our waiter with his coat on at 11:30! We looked around and saw we were the last people in the restaurant. Of course everyone came back to our house to party in the New Year there, but that was a lesson to us. New Years Eve in a small rural town is not always a hotsy totsy time.
   That's when I decided to start cooking an Indian Birthday New Years Eve Banquet for Alan. At our house I could be assured the action would keep up until well after the balls had dropped everywhere. This year was no exception.

   Last year the main dish was Goat Biryani and there was a close call with a power outage and some other fun and games. This year it was smoother sailing. There were two proteins on the menu, a Rajasthani Lamb and the wonderfully musical sounding Shrimp Vindaloo.
   Vindaloo dishes are found in the South Indian Kitchen and they are heavily influenced by the Portuguese. One thing that distinguishes them is the use of chiles and vinegar. The portuguese have a pork and vinegar dish called Vinha D' Alhos, it's just a hop skip and a jump from Vinha to Vindaloo and along the way the recipe picked up some other ingredients and a whole lotta heat. Since the lamb dish I was making was very mild and aromatic, I wanted a contrast that would spice things up and add a bit of needed bite to the table. Shrimp Vindaloo was just the ticket.
   The great thing about this dish is that it is a "make-ahead." The sauce can be made up to a day ahead and kept until serving time. Since the shrimp cooks in the sauce for only  few minutes, this dish goes into the easy-breezy-perfect-dinner-party special file.  Here's my adaptation of this classic dish.

Shrimp Vindaloo

What to do.
 Thinly slice 2 large onions.
 In a large skillet or kadhai, heat about 3 Tbs of vegetable oil. I used Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Oil.
 When the oil is hot, add in the sliced onions and saute them until they're lightly brown.
 Toss in:
 2 tsp of chopped shallot
 2 tsp of chopped ginger
 Keep sauteing until the onions are browned a bit more.
Now for the spices.
 Add in:
6 tsp of coriander
1 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp of Kashmiri chili, or if you don't have that, 1/2 tsp of cayenne.
1/2 tsp of ground black pepper
1/4 tsp of turmeric
1/8 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/8 of ground cloves
1/4 cup of white vinegar
1 and 1/2 tsp of salt
1 cup of chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
1/2 tsp of ground mustard seeds
1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
2 green serrano chiles split in half..or if you want it hotter add a third.
1/4 cup of water. (you can add more if you need)
  Stir it well.
Bring the sauce to a boil, then turn it down and simmer it for about 5 minutes or so until it thickens a bit.  That's it. The sauce is done.
When you are ready to serve, add in 2 lbs of shelled and deveined large shrimp. Simmer the shrimp until they turn pink and opaque. This should take about 10 minutes.
Check your seasonings and serve.
This recipe will serve about 8 people. There were no shrimp left at the end of the dinner. It was that good.
There were a lot of other dishes served.
Lots of wines, and I was still  picking up little "surprises" around the house a day later. At least none of them were from Patsy.
She was safely near the dining room table on her best behavior.
  Finally came the dessert. The traditional birthday cake we serve around here, a Princess Cake from Scandia Bakery.
And of course Champagne.
  Our friend Heather Gordon who is an amazing artist, wanted to see the ball drop and rockets go off, so after watching Carson Daly looking like an undertaker we flipped from New York to closer to home.
Things got to be a little too "fun" for Patsy who not liking the fireworks, retreated behind the drapes.
  It was a great party and a great New Years Eve. I for one am glad to see this last year go out. 2010 was not one of my favorite years, and even though we're a year closer to 2012... well, it's got to be an improvement.
  I hope everyone had an equally great ring out of the old and ring in of the new.


  1. Alan is one lucky guy. That dinner looks fantastic and it looks like you had a blast. Well maybe not Patsy but the rest of you!

  2. What a feast. The whole world celebrates with Alan! This vindaloo is a PERFECT way to celebrate. Here's to 2011!

  3. Yow what a feast!!! I just love the look of the cake, and have the shrimp dish on my wish list.

    Terrific post, and terrific for your husband, well done on every angle


  4. Happy Brithday to Alan, him and my hubby have the same birthday, I however didn't have as elegant of a party, crab legs, drinks and Dick Clark! oh my.... outstanding job. wish we lived closer I would have crashed it for sure (smiles) ★•.¸¸.•*¨*❤•.¸¸.•*¨*☆•.¸¸.•*¨*❤
    HAPPY NEW 2011 YEAR!!!

  5. Happy New year to everybody... funny we celebrate them on the same day.

  6. @Janis, looks like you had a great New Years Eve too.

  7. Oh wow! What a nice way to bring in 2011 :) May be it bigger and better.

  8. Happy New Year Kathy! Shirmp Vindaloo does sound very musical and it looks as good as it sounds! I love make ahead dishes. Great celebration!

    P.S. that cake is really cool!



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