Recently I had a craving for steamed mussels. The most popular recipes for mussels steam them in a delicately seasoned broth of white wine, tomato, garlic and parsley. I wanted something with a bit more spice and attitude.
When I was planning the recipe, I decided to prepare them in the cooking style of Kerala where my husband was born. Since Kerala is on the southwestern coast of India, the residents there eat a lot of fresh seafood, including mussels. The preparations usually involve a curry. After the mussels are steamed open, the meat is added to a well-spiced sauce filled with tomato, green chiles, ginger and garlic. The dish is usually served with rice or parotha.
In my Malabar Steamed Mussels recipe, I start by browning onions and garlic in a large pot with some cumin. After a few minutes, I add tomato and two green chiles. After another minute, I add dry white wine to release the fond and deglaze the pot followed by fresh water. At this point I add a mix of turmeric, red chile powder (not too much) coriander, fennel seed and homemade garam masala. The secret ingredient to add richness to the broth is a generous helping of saffron threads. To give the broth the flavor of Kerala, I add a sprig of curry leaves.
When the broth is ready, I steam the mussels in it to allow them to absorb the flavor of Kerala. After they open, I serve the Malabar Steamed Mussels in individual bowls and top them with a bit of chopped cilantro. I serve the mussels with a hot fresh naan or layered parotha. Serving the steamed mussels in a large bowl over a mound of steamed basmati rice ensures that all the vegetables and rich broth are eaten and enjoyed.
This recipe can generously serve two as a main course or four as an appetizer.