Bored with crawfish boil? Crayfish in red curry is something you need to try out if you have not already. These little crustacean turns vibrant red when cooked and often make it to the grocery store shelves already cooked with seasoning in it. Make one delicious red spicy sauce Sri Lankan style and they would be ready to be divulged.
Sri Lankan red curry is my favorite pairing to go when cooking this devilishly delicious treat. Sourness and sweet sugars from tamarind, tomatoes and spicy heat from red hot chilies powder simmering in aromatic sauce with cloves, cardamom and sweet cumin is a sight to be behold.
image of crayfish red curry
Every single ingredient contributes to an important part of the final flavor of this dish. The right amounts of important ingredients, added at the right moment cooked in right temperature gives this crayfish dish a well-balanced sweet, tangy yet daringly spicy flavor.
I use Spanish paprika in here two ways, half roasted, and rest is added unroasted. Spanish paprika has good amount of heat and vibrant color I love. It is my favorite type of powdered chili pepper to make curries with. When dry roasting curry powders, with red paprika pepper, loses some of its color and in it but gains wonderful smoky aroma. I am adding tablespoon of paprika unroasted to gain some of that vibrant color back.
Preserved lime, tomato, and tamarind all three contribute to the tanginess of this curry, differently. Flavor that shines is going to be from the sharp tamarind paste. Tomatoes gives out its beautiful color and body of the sauce with some sweetness. Preserved limes that I use is my own creation of salt packed partially dehydrated lime slices, which sit in my refrigerator. Limes does not have much juice in it, so its main contribution is wonderful lemony aroma that complements the aroma and flavor from tamarind. All three ingredients help elevate the sauce and let our crayfish shine. If you do not have my style preserved lemons worry not! you can use teaspoon of lemon zest instead.
Another tip for success is cook this curry on medium to low heat. crayfish red curry has minimal amount of sauce cooking delicate ingredients. Having moderate to low cooking temperature helps developing flavors and preserving aromatics in the sauce. I always the method of slowly simmering spices, when it comes to tomato or tamarind-based sauces.
What is crayfish and why make a curry when its already cooked?
Meet here the little cousin of lobster. They are compact, easy to find humble little flavor bombs. Ways of cooking this little freshwater crustacean is as vast as the great blue ocean. There is the great southern delight of Louisiana boiled crawfish most popular way of eating them but, each culture around the world has its own way of cooking this freshwater crustacean, that are just delicious. To name popular couple of recipes would be Spanish crayfish in tomato , BBQ crayfish with herb butter.
Whatever the way you serve crayfish it is a delight. So why a red curry ? to that my Sri Lankan heart says why not! like to daringly spice things up in my Sri Lankan cooking. Cooking a packet of crayfish is closest and easiest way I can get to a Sri Lankan crab curry or lobster curry. Crayfish curry tastes the same and delicious. It is my own way to delicious hot Sri Lankan curry under 30 minutes.
- 1 kg crayfish tails, deveined and cut into 2 or 3 pieces depending on the
- size and / or 6 whole crayfish. I used both.
- 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 4 tablespoons plain yoghurt optional
- 2 large onions grated
- 3 medium red tomatoes grated or puréed
- 2 teaspoons coriander/koljana
- 2 teaspoons cumin/jeera
- 1 teaspoon turmeric/borrie
- 4 green chillies, deseeded and chopped more or less
- 1 – 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
- 4 large cloves of garlic, grated finely
- Dhanya leaves (finely chopped)
- 1 heaped teaspoons salt or to taste
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 TBSP tomato paste
- 1/2 cup water or as needed
Heat the oil in a pot and sauté onions on medium heat till the onions are light brown in colour.
Mix in the grated garlic and green chillies. Fry till it turns golden-brown stirring all the time.
Add the puréed or grated tomato and paste and cook till the onions and tomatoes are soft, about 5 – 10 minutes. Add drops of water to prevent the onion mixture sticking to the bottom.
Now add all the spice powders except the garam masala and mix well to combine the spices with the onion mixture. Cook for about 5-10 minutes.
Gently stir in the lobster / crayfish tails, salt and the yoghurt.
Cook on high for about 5 minutes.
Add the water. Cover and allow it to simmer on low heat till the crayfish meat is cooked and tender about 10 minutes or until the shell of the crayfish turns pinkish. Stir every few minutes, add more water as needed, depending on the consistency you like the texture of your curry (thick or thin gravy/sauce) Stir in the garam masala and lemon juice. Garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander leaves.
Serve with freshly cooked basmati or fragrant rice or roti to mop up that yummy sauce