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Creamy Tomato Shrimp Curry and Turmeric Rice inspired by The Lunchbox | #FoodnFlix

Creamy Tomato Shrimp Curry and Turmeric Rice
This month's Food 'n Flix pick is a feast for the food lovers senses. Set in India, The Lunchbox is about a mistake in Mumbai's famed efficient lunchbox delivery system.  Ila is a lonely housewife and "stay at home mom" who is trying to win back her husband's affections by preparing and packing delicious food in his lunchbox. The first scene in the movie begins this way, handing his lunch off to the Dabbawala (one who carries the lunchbox) to deliver to him at work.

Although the Dabbawala insist that their system is flawless, referencing a study done by Harvard, the lunchbox meant for Rajeev (Ila's husband) winds up on the desk of the lonely and somewhat grouchy widower Saajan Fernandes. From the moment he unzips the carrier, he smells that his lunch is different than it's been in the past. It's better. It's a pure delight watching him open each compartment of that tiffin, leaning into their aroma.

When Ila receives the lunchbox that appears to have been licked clean back that evening, her spirits soar, thinking that her husband was immensely pleased. After he returns home and she questions him about his lunch, she realized that her lunch did not go to him. So the next day, she tucks a note inside with the food she sends. This, as they say, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Creamy Tomato Shrimp Curry and Turmeric Rice inspired by The Lunch Box
There is, of course, more to it than that—but I'll let you watch it and find out the rest for yourself. Although the movie is full of heart, the scenes where Ila is preparing food and Sajaan is eating it are the most sensual and full of life. Through food and this new found relationship, both people are able to step out of the situations that are holding them back from living their lives to the fullest.

You can imagine that there was plenty of food set forth as inspiration in this flick. Beautiful little eggplants, spring apples, thin flatbreads, parathas, stuffed bitter melon, paneer, and countless curries. Although not seen in the movie, I chose to make a creamy shrimp curry and pack it into a lunchbox with some fragrant turmeric rice. With all of its beautiful spices and simple ingredients, I can see Ila making this...and Sajaan eating it.
Turmeric Rice
Peelay Chaaval (Turmeric Rice)
This lightly seasoned yellow rice can be served with almost any Indian meal.
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by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Keywords: side vegan rice Indian

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • pinch of ground cloves
Put the rice into a wire mesh strainer and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear.

Put the oil into a heavy skillet with deep sides (and a lid) set over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the bay leaf, cardamom pods, and cinnamon stick, stirring for 20 seconds or so to release some of the oils. Add the garlic and stir until it turns the color of straw, 10-20 seconds longer.

Add the rice, salt, turmeric, and cloves and stir until everything is well combined and the rice is coated with oil, 1-2 minutes.

Add 2 3/4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Put the lid on (or cover tightly) and turn the heat down as low as it will go. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove lid and fluff with a fork. Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Serve with a sprinkling of fresh herbs (like cilantro or chives), if you wish.
Creamy Tomato Shrimp Curry
Ghagari Jhinga (Creamy Tomato Shrimp Curry)
Shrimp in an aromatic tomato-cream sauce made with coconut milk.
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by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5-7 minutes
Keywords: entree pescetarian Indian

Ingredients (serves 4)
    for the sauce:
    • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) full fat coconut milk
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 fresh green chile, finely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon garam masala
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    for the shrimp:
    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 10 curry leaves
    • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
    Stir all of the ingredients for the sauce together until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

    Put the oil in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat. Once it is hot, add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop (in just a few seconds), add the garlic and curry leaves and stir for 20-30 seconds or until the garlic starts to turn golden.

    Quickly add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until the shrimp have cooked most of the way through. Pour in the reserved sauce and bring it to a simmer. At this point the shrimp should be cooked through. Remove from heat and serve with rice.

    Food‘nFlix This month's edition of Food 'n Flix is being hosted at Culinary Adventures with Camilla, and our movie pick is The Lunchbox. Submissions are due by 2/28 at noon (Pacific time) if you'd like to join us.

    If you'd like to join us next month, we'll be watching A Walk in the Clouds with our host Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm.