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Kerala Shrimp and Grits

Kerala Shrimp n’ Grits

I’ve been dreaming about this Kerala Shrimp and Grits recipe. How I could create a true ode to my double Southern roots. See, I was born in North Carolina with a love for Bojangles biscuits and sweet tea, but also a love for Kerala food, too. What better way to combine both loves than with a plate of cheesy grits topped with spiced shrimp and thick-cut bacon bits?

If you’ve never had grits, it’s a savory, gritty, yet creamy dish made of ground white corn. It’s usually part of any good southern breakfast spread, but can be enjoyed at any time of day (like any food, really). As a kid, we always stocked two things in our pantry for our American breakfasts: oatmeal with the gummy dinosaurs in it and butter grits in the Quaker instant packs. It was my favorite thing to pile in two packets of instant grits into my bowl, crack in some fresh black pepper, and dollop in some more butter.

Then one day I went to a local Charlotte restaurant called Boudreaux’s and had my first-ever bowl of Shrimp and Grits. It was truly love at first bite. Any time I see it on a menu, I HAVE to try it. So it was only natural that years later I’d want to create my own version of the loved Southern classic with this Kerala Shrimp and Grits recipe. I hope you enjoy my ode to my double southern roots. Happy eatin’ (y’all!)

If you decide to make this recipe or have any questions about how to make it, head over to my instagram @thefamiliarkitchen so we can connect and I can see how it turned out for you!

INGREDIENTS

The Shrimp
  • Thick Cut Bacon, 2 strips
  • Shallots, 1, thinly sliced
  • Garlic Cloves, 4, thinly sliced
  • Curry Leaves, 1 sprig
  • Jumbo Shrimp, tail on, 1/2 pound
  • Green Cardamom, 6 pods, (shell removed), ground
  • Cumin, 1/4 tsp, ground
  • Fennel Seeds, 1/4 tsp, ground
  • Red Chili Powder, 1/2 tsp
  • Black Pepper, 1/4 tsp, ground
  • Salt, 1-2 tsp
  • Jaggery or Brown Sugar, 1 tbsp
The Grits
  • Chicken Broth, 3 cups
  • Saffron, 1 pinch
  • Ghee, 1 tbsp
  • Salt, 1 tbsp
  • Stone Ground or Old Fashioned Grits, 1 cup
  • Jalapeno Cilantro Cheese, 1 cup, grated (you can use any cheese)

HOW TO MAKE IT

The shrimp.

In a skillet on medium high heat, add the two strips of thick cut bacon and cook both sides until lightly crisp. Remove from pan and set aside. Now add in the shallots, garlic, and curry leaves and cook until lightly brown. Add in the shrimp along with the cardamom, cumin, fennel seeds, red chili powder, black pepper, and salt. Mix together so the spices coat the shrimp. Cook the shrimp until it turns peachy pink. Don’t overcook the shrimp or else it will be rubbery. Meanwhile, dice the two bacon strips and add it to the skillet. Mix so the bacon is incorporated and then turn off the heat. Sprinkle in the jaggery, mix, and then set aside.

The grits.

In a sauce pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add in the saffron, ghee, and salt. When the broth comes to a boil add in the grits then reduce the heat to medium low. Mix frequently for about 4-5 minutes or until the grits absorb the water and thicken up. Now mix in the grated cheese so that it fully melts into the grits. Once melted in, remove from heat.

Assembling it.

In a plate or bowl, spoon in about 3/4 cup of grits. Spoon the shrimp and bacon bits over the grits. Optionally, you can add a little ghee or butter and parsley or green onions for garnish. That’s it!

When I was a kid, one of the first things my mom taught me how to make was a hot cup of chaya (homestyle tea). It was like a rite of passage…and an invitation to her colorful, spice-filled kitchen. The most exciting part back then was daringly pouring the steamy, caramel-colored goodness from one steel cup to another so I could cool it down and get that classic, frothy texture to sit atop the tea. It’s a recollection of my childhood every time I do it. That same magical feeling still shines through my recipes, both new and old. There’s just nothing like creating a dish so full of evocative flavor and love. It’s what gives me joy and the inspiration to share this experience with you every day! It’s something I hope offers you adventure, a little piece of home, and maybe even something a little familiar.

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