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An Island Storm. (vegan option included)

It’s a rainy day in my city. Usually, a day like today would have me uniformed in pajama’s, candles lit and my moms frozen soup on deck while i binge watch movie after movie. Today however, as i tugged the window a jar and welcomed in the romantic rainy day breeze, i couldn’t help but crave a little tropical comfort.

This past February, i took a trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands. One of my favourite spots was a local resto/bar called Flamingo Café in Provinciales. It was hands down the most beautiful beach, with a relaxing yet fun ambiance. I didn’t feel like a disturbance playing music from my little speaker as i did on most of the lux resort beaches on the island.

As you pull up to a bright yellow questionable shack that seems to be a little off route, you can’t help but feel a sense of wanderlust taking your first steps into the souvenir shop. Continuing onward past a small bar, the music and conversations faintly began to drown out as the sounds of the waves continued to seduce me. I glanced up past the lush greenery as i stood for just a moment breathless at the unrealistic blue, painting like water. It served as a dreamy backdrop to a couple relaxing with a massage beneath a sheer chiffon tent. Trying my best not to disturb their peace, we casually paced towards the other side of a dock that was the perfect distance away from the restaurant, not too close, not to far – just heavenly.

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What made it even more perfect is you can conveniently rent chairs and umbrella’s from the cafè as well. We waited and i looked in awe with my toes glued into the the wavy sand, later rushing forward to help out. The man who brought the chairs over told me not to worry as he dug them slightly into the water so that we felt a bit of each wave with every sip. Looking out into the ocean i felt so small, but in the best way possible. I am still so grateful for that moment.

Hours had passed by and we were fully relaxed. It was that sad part of the day in which we slowly began to pack up. Just as we did, clouds suddenly tumbled in – fast. Seconds later, a short but dramatic down pour had begun! Strong gusts of wind forcing shop keepers to quickly tear down merchandise hanging about, while people took muddy falls as they raced to their cars. Once the storm had passed, we safely got into our taxi and headed to our rental to prepare for dinner.

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There’s always something about spending a day at the beach which always leaves my body feeling a little like jello. Although completely satisfied by the day, my intense expectations always require a little extra luxury. I was craving the same sense of satisfaction you get when you have a bowl of warm soup on a rainy day. The two days completely contradict one another i know, but comfort food during the rain is always essential nonetheless.

So i began experimenting. Although so far away, i brought home the tastes of a luxurious island to my little not so luxurious apartment.

May the first bite carry you to the island in your dreams. Enjoy !

Curried Shrimp With Coconut & Spinach Rice

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Recipe yields : 4 to 6 as an appetizer or can be served for 2 to 4 as a main. If you choose to serve this as a main dish or a vegan main, see instructions further below. 

Rice

  • 1 cup PC jasmine basmati rice
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/2 an onion diced
  • 2 large or 3 small cloves of garlic grated or minced
  • 2 cups of baby spinach
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper
  • Add +1 tbsp of curry powder + 1 can of lentils for vegan main or side dish

Shrimp

  • 1 lb PC Raw Zipperback Black Tiger Shrimp Jumbo Size
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 tbsp. of caribean green seasoning. I used fresh Shado Beni from Trinidad ( or called culantro in North America as a stronger sister of cilantro ) *optional**  You can find both a bottled green seasoning or fresh culantro at most Caribbean or Asian super markets.
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • pinch of salt & pepper
  • optional squirt of lemon to season raw shrimp

Instructions 

For the rice, begin by heating oil in a pot, add onions. Stir ,then wilt in 2 cups of spinach, followed by the rice. Add coconut milk, about 1/2 a cup of water, minced garlic, a hot pepper and thyme to sit on top. Cover and reduce to a low heat, stirring very often to ensure nothing sticks.( Add a few tablespoons of water and keep covered on low to steam the rice if you find the mixture is thickening without the rice being fully cooked)  If you find this to be too spicy or if the pepper bursts while cooking remove the pepper and add more coconut milk and stir on medium heat to dissolve the added coconut milk and kill any excess spice! 

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**VEGAN MAIN OPTION- For a vegan option of this dish, follow the same steps for the rice however just add 1 tbsp of curry powder and a can of lentils  to the mixture ! It will all cook together for a perfect cozy 1 pot meal!

Season shrimp with salt, pepper, garlic and culantro. Next, heat the oil in a pan adding only 2 tbsp of the curry powder. Stir lightly then allow a moment for the curry paste mixture to come to a low simmer. Then, add the shrimp, stir let fry for a few seconds then reduce heat to medium. Add about 1 1/2 cups of water to the mixture. Stir and let simmer for 4-5 min until the shrimp is pinkish red in colour. Be careful not to over cook!

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** Please note this is not a traditional way to make curried shrimp, just a mild version to be paired with this rice as an appetizer, see below for traditional version as a main***

Should you choose to serve this as a main dish, dice a half of an onion in with the canola oil, fry along with the and 2 tbsp. of curry powder. Once the curry powder has been mixed together with the onions, add about 1 cup of canned pigeon peas and stir. Add 1/4 cup of water. Let simmer on medium low heat until the water has been mostly dissolved and the peas slightly soft before adding in shrimp. Add the shrimp and sprinkle in extra curry powder to taste. Mix together and let it simmer raising the heat to medium add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water. Cover and let cook for 5 min or until shrimp is cooked! 

Serve this dish by scooping rice into the middle of a bowl and spoon sauce around the centered rice.

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