This Indian-inspired coconut and tomato curry is a natural destination for mussels, which are inexpensive and widely available in cooler months. Ask your fishmonger for the largest mussels they have, or at least mussels of consistent size. I find that very small mussels overcook in the time it takes for larger mussels to open. If mussels aren’t available, this is also excellent with shrimp.

The broth in this curry is highly flavorful; I love to serve warm naan alongside to dip into it. Prepping the ingredients in this recipe is the most time-consuming aspect – the cooking happens in under 15 minutes. So if you are entertaining, prep everything ahead of time.

Susie Middleton

Serves 4 to 6 as a starter, 2 to 3 as a main dish

  •  1 generous tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  •  1 generous tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  •  3 teaspoons curry powder
  •  2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, packed
  •  1½ teaspoons Asian chili-garlic paste
  •  ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  •  Kosher salt
  •  1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk (preferably organic), thoroughly stirred
  •  1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (I like Muir Glen fire-roasted)
  •  2 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil
  •  1 medium-large onion, sliced thickly lengthwise (about 1¼ to 1½ cups)
  •  3 cups baby spinach, packed
  •  2 pounds fresh mussels, washed and scrubbed
  •  2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  •  1 teaspoon lime zest
  •  ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  •  ¾ cup frozen peas, thawed (optional)
  •  naan, warmed (optional)

1. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, curry powder, brown sugar, chili-garlic paste, cumin, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. In a large glass measure, combine the coconut milk (well whisked), crushed tomatoes, and ½ cup water.

2. In a wide (12-inch) Dutch oven or deep skillet with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a good pinch of salt. Stir, cover loosely, and cook until the onions are browned but still holding some shape, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic-spice mix and stir well, cooking for about 30 seconds.

3. Add the tomato-coconut mixture and stir and scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate the spices with the liquids. Add the spinach and the mussels and bring to a simmer. Stir, cover loosely, and cook, stirring once or twice, until all the mussels are opened, about 3 to 6 minutes (discard mussels that do not open). Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lime juice, lime zest, and three-quarters of the cilantro. Stir in the peas if using.

4. Spoon the mussel curry in warm shallow bowls, garnished with the remaining cilantro. Serve with warm naan if desired. Don’t forget a bowl or two for empty shells.