The conversation started while we were reminiscing with John Armstrong, the newest member of the Canadian Yachting crew.
'I have a shrimp curry recipe that I absolutely love,' John told us, 'and it's something that I like to make when we have friends onboard the boat.'
We couldn't help ourselves for asking John where his affection for curry come from? We learned that John spent many years as a pilot with Air Canada and it turns out that at one point in his career, he had a particularly unusual assignment.
The government in India tendered a contract for an airborne geophysical surveyor of the entire country of India using a Canadian aircraft. Part of the arrangement was that an aircraft would be flown in a grid pattern over all of India and there was an insurance stipulation that the Captain had to be a Canadian.
John was lucky enough to get the assignment and spent the next year in the air over India. During his time on assignment there, he developed a great affection for both the people and the cuisine of India. His shrimp curry recipe is an easy-to-make, longtime favourite that tastes exotic and rich.
The Galley Guys liked the story and loved the sound of the recipe, so on a gloriously sunny day in April, only days after his Cruisers Yachts aft cabin had been splashed for the summer, we found ourselves cooking onboard with a little help from a Peller Estates Cabernet Merlot. This Canadian red worked nicely with the curry.
Showing off his skills in the galley, John calmly went about preparing his curry recipe in dress slacks and an elegant sweater. One good splash of curry could have been a disaster but that didn't stop John from getting right into it.
'John with his nice slacks in the galley' - The Galley Guys
'My recipe can serve four people,' John explained. 'You can either make it ahead of time or on the boat. It keeps fairly well and heats up beautifully. If you need something that's quick, make it ahead at home and take it on the boat, keeping it in the refrigerator for even a day or two. The curry just gets better and better. On the other hand, if you're having a relaxing evening and want to spend time in the galley, this recipe takes me 45 to 50 minutes from start to serving.'
The galley in the Cruisers Yachts had ample counter space boasting a two-burner ceramic stovetop. We were at dockside and running on shore power with John beginning the process by warming a small amount of vegetable oil in a deep pot and finely slicing two large onions, then mincing two cloves of garlic to sauté them in the pan until fully softened.
'The next step is to add the curry powder and stir well for approximately 5 minutes,' said John 'this is my secret for a really smooth but rich curry flavor. I learned this in India. It's called ‘booning’ the curry. By heating it well, the flavour really comes out.'
John continued adding the tomato paste and stirring for a few more minutes. Then he added the water into which he'd already dissolved four ounces of coconut milk. That went into the mixture as he continued cooking on slow heat for a few more minutes. Next, he added the lemon juice, sugar and the sour cream, [another little trick that adds both flavor and an elegant richness] blending everything together thoroughly. At that point John took the large, uncooked tiger shrimp that he had carefully deveined, [be sure to get the veins out; they can be a source of food poisoning] and after thoroughly washing and adding in the shrimp, he continued cooking on low heat for 40 minutes.
'40 minutes? Won’t those shrimp be like little rubber nuggets?,' I asked.
'You'd be surprised,' John answered 'One of the important things is to ensure the all the water is squeezed out of the shrimp before putting them into the mixture because you don't want to dilute the curry and then the slow heat and the protection of the curry mixture will give you a delightfully soft but crunchy cooked shrimp – you'll see.'
At about the 15 minute mark, John put on one cup of basmati rice which would serve as the bed for our shrimp curry. He also set out some mixed Indian pickles at the table. These add an interesting flavour and boost the heat levels just enough to be interesting.
'naan on the boat barbie' - The Galley Guys
Meanwhile, John had also drizzled a little olive oil on his Naan bread and then set it aside while cooking the rest of the ingredients. A few minutes before serving, we turned on his rail-mounted barbecue, warmed it up and put the Naan bread on the grill, on a low heat setting to warm and crisp it.
With the shrimp curry and rice ready to serve, I took the Naan bread off the grill, wrapping it in some aluminum foil to keep it warm. John served his shrimp curry in a nest of basmati rice and this Galley Guy got to spend a most enjoyable afternoon with good friends and a richly satisfying and flavourful meal.
Why is your favorite recipe your favorite recipe? We'd love to hear your stories and try out your favourite meals on the boat. E-mail Galley Guys Greg Nicoll at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Andy Adams at email@example.com
Small amount of vegetable oil
2 large onions sliced finely
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
4 oz. tomato paste
2 large tablespoons of curry powder
1 ½ cups of hot water with 4 oz. coconut milk dissolved in it
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons white sugar
¾ cup of sour cream
2 dozen peeled, de veined large uncooked shrimp
Salt (to taste)
Mixed Indian pickles
Fry the onions and garlic in a small amount of oil until the onions have completely softened. Add the curry powder stirring well for approximately five minutes. Add the tomato paste and continue stirring for a few more minutes. Add the water and dissolved coconut milk, continue cooking on slow heat for a few more minutes, add the lemon juice, sugar and sour cream, mix until all is thoroughly blended, add the washed shrimp and continue cooking on low heat for 40 minutes, prepare the basmati rice at this point.
Drizzle small amount of olive oil on both sides of the Naan bread and crisp up on the BB. Canadian Yachting magazine is Canada's premiere source for compelling boating lifestyle experiences, travel destinations, boat reviews, tips on gear, marine events and breaking news for sailors and power boaters. Enjoyed by readers in digital, online and print formats six times yearly.