Shrimp and Okra Bhuna from the Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook
New Orleans food activist and farmers market advocate Poppy Tooker has released the Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook of late, and it's already making a splash around town. 13 years in the making, Tooker gathered excellent recipes from the producers and customers at downtown's Tuesday and Saturday farmers markets, putting together an interesting mix of local favorites, gourmet treats, and international specialities with a particularly Louisiana inflection. Interesting profiles of local producers and farmers market sellers are also included in the text - because it's always good to know the story behind your latest supper. And even better to know that story isn't "factory farmed and dumped into a microwaveable freezer bag with a cartoon character on it."
I've got the book, and I believe that it's a great buy for anyone with a passion for both New Orleans cuisine and local ingredients. I'm very much looking forward to cooking my way through this book in the coming months, and I'm glad to have a fresh and local resource to work from (because the human body can only take so much clarified butter.) Check out the recipes for sautéed drum with spinach, oysters, shiitakes and Virginia ham, Latin inflected chilaquiles en salsa verde, or Gator-Tater salad and tell me you wouldn't like to play around with this cookbook a lot. Didn't think so.
Local Louisiana ingredients happen to go startlingly well with Indian cuisine, and this recipe from the now defunct Shalimar is easy and tasty. Louisiana-India cross cultural exchange? Taste it right here.
Shrimp and Okra Bhuna
1/2 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
pinch of turmeric
1 pound shrimp peeled/deveined
4 tablespoons corn oil, divided (I didn't use this.)
4 button mushrooms
1 medium onion, sliced
1 medium green bell pepper in strips
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic
pinch of turmeric
1 diced tomato
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 cup cut okra
In a bowl, combine the paprika, the yogurt, the lemon juice, the turmeric powder, cayenne, and salt. Mix it up then put in the shrimp, then chill for three or four hours. (If in a hurry, 20 minutes or so is acceptable in my experience.)
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wok or pan over high heat - I used a pan and it worked fine. Toss in the mushrooms, the onion, the bell pepper, the cumin, the coriander, the garlic, the turmeric, the cayenne, and the salt. Cook this and add a little water if stuff starts to get scorching.
When the veggies are done, toss in the shrimp, tomato, cilantro and yogurt. This will create a nice creamy overtone to the curry. Reduce heat and cook for two or three minutes, until the shrimp are pink and complete.
Now, it's time to cook the okra. Heat up your oil until it's hot, then throw in the okra and fry until browned - this can take a bit.
Once the okra is browned,, toss it into the the shrimp and vegetable mixture and stir to meld the flavors. Congratulations, you're done. Serve the bhuna with fresh basmati rice and a cucumber and tomato salad or the tasty pear slaw from the cookbook. Don't forget to put plenty of hot sauce on the table. Crystal will work just fine.
Recipe from the Crescent City Farmer's Market Cookbook