Tandoori Shrimp

Makes 4 servings
Time: about 30 minutes, plus 2 hours marinating time

Suvir does a great job of taking Indian street food and making it appeal to everyone. This is a spectacular example of this, a combination tandoor dish and salad that would shine no matter where it was served.

Suvir says he uses colossal shrimp for this recipe because smaller shrimp would overcook in the time it takes for the tandoori paste to turn into a delicious glaze. That makes sense to me, though I have since tried the recipe with smaller shrimp and the results, while less glorious, were good.

As Suvir does not use food coloring, his tandoori dishes do not have the bright red color of those in most Indian restaurants. On the other hand, they have amazing flavor, even when made in a conventional oven or on a grill.

1 tablespoon cumin seeds or 2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons toasted chickpea flour (besan) or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups plain yogurt, drained over a bowl in a cheesecloth-lined strainer or a coffee filter for at least 1 hour (if longer, refrigerate)
12 colossal (about 2 pounds) shrimp, shelled
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 lemon, halved

1. If you're using whole cumin, toast the seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat, shaking the pan, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Grind 2 teaspoons of the cumin seeds to a powder in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle and set aside.

2. Stir together the ginger, garlic, flour, ground cumin, pepper, Garam Masala, and turmeric in a bowl large enough to hold the shrimp. Stir in the lemon juice and then the yogurt, a bit at a time, stirring until smooth after each addition. Add the shrimp and toss to coat with the marinade. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours; overnight is fine.

3. Preheat the oven to 550°F, or as near that temperature as you can get it. Put the shrimp in a single layer on a rack in a foil-lined baking pan, sprinkle with salt, and roast 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 15 minutes, then brush with the melted butter and roast another 10 minutes, until cooked through.

4. Arrange the shrimp on a platter, sprinkle with the reserved toasted cumin seeds and squeeze the lemon juice over all. Serve hot.

Grilled Tandoori Prawns:
When you're ready to cook (Step 3 above), start a charcoal or gas grill; the fire should be very hot-you should barely be able to hold your hand over the core of it-and set the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Grill the shrimp for 3 minutes on each side; let rest 15 minutes off the grill, then brush with the butter and grill 5 to 10 more minutes, until cooked through.