Apr 3, 2017

Making Jinha Masala

I love it when hotels offer free activities for their guests –especially if there is a cooking demonstration. I may never make the recipe at home but I get to try something new and typical of the area John and I are visiting. The Malaysian Island of Penang has some of the best Indian food. Why?  More than ten percent of the island is of Indian ancestry. One of the popular Indian dishes is Jingha (Hindi word for shrimp) Masala (from the Hindi word for spice). The island’s heterogeneous population is highly diverse in ethnicity, culture, language and religion making it a fascinating destination. It was first settled by the English but today the island is about 40% Malay, 40% Chinese and 10% Indian with a variety of other groups making up the rest. 

 The Malaysian island of Penang is on several lists of great places people should visit during their lifetime; and, it is second on CNN’s list of “The 17 Best Places to Visit in 2017.”  It is easy to see why. The island has a myriad of different things to do from exploring the UNESCO Heritage City of Georgetown to a walking tour through the new Entopia Butterfly Farm to parasailing over the Straits of Mallaca.  

 Penang is a honeymoon destination for Saudi couples and a winter
getaway for Europeans.  There are Europeans in itsy-bitsy bikinis and Arab women in swimsuits that covered them completely except for face, hands and feet; some are very colorful. There are women in abayas, some with face veils, mixed with guests clad in a variety of other outfits including saris and hijabs. Usually it is only the women who are so attired but there is an occasional male in a dishsdasha.

With such a diverse clientele chefs need to prepare food to suit all their guests.  All the food is halal. The breakfast is impressive: eggs, pancakes, grilled tomatoes, cheese, soups, salads, fruits, bread pudding, curries, rice, and even a fava bean dish called foul which was very good. And, so is Jingha Masala. However, it can be very hot which we are not used to.  A while back we had a guide in Penang who took us to lunch at a typical hawker stall place (think food mall) and he had his food so hot he was sweating. When I asked why he eats such hot food he said “I sweat and it evaporates making me feel cooler.” Hummm, not sure it is worth it!

Jingha Masala

1 tbs cooking oil

1 tsp chopped garlic

1 tsp chopped onion

15 curry leaves

2 tsp ginger

1 tsp garlic paste

½ cup tomato puree or finely chopped fresh tomatoes

1 tsp salt

1 tbs red chili powder

2 tsp turmeric powder

25 pcs prawn or shrimp (cleaned and washed)

1 tsp green pepper chopped

2 tbs cream (light)

1 tsp kastoori mathi powder (fenugreek)

Fresh coriander leaves chopped for garnish

Heat oil in wok or frying pan. Add garlic, onions, and curry leaves. Sauté for a few seconds. Add ginger and garlic paste. Sauté for one minute. Add tomato puree, salt, red chili powder and turmeric. Cook for five minutes stirring frequently. Add prawns and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add green pepper. Cook for one minute. Add cream and kastoori mathi. Stir and remove from heat. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.  Serve with naan bread.