Homestyle seafood curry: Afro-Ecuadorian cuisine

Coconut goes really well with seafood, and shrimp is no exception. In Ecuador, a good, homely seafood curry is one of the most popular meal choices

Esmeraldas is a city located in the north cost of Ecuador, and it is known as the “green province”. This area is culturally rich because of its folklore. The cuisine, like the music and local dances, have a contagious rhythm inherited from the African ancestors. Coconut seems to be a highlight in most local dishes, and seafood curries in coconut milk are pretty common.

Shrimp is a pretty popular form of seafood, and coconut makes it even better.
Image: Paz Abad Gonzalez

Like most food, that of Ecuador is crafted by the influence of other cultures that have existed in the country in the time of the conquest in the mid 15 century; and later during the 19th and 20th centuries.

These cultures were:

  • the indigenous who inhabited the territory,
  • the Spanish who arrived on the voyages of discovery
  • and the Africans who were brought by the Iberians (of Greek and Roman descent) as slaves.

This mixture of cultures made the Ecuadorian food so diverse. Esmeraldas rely on shrimp and banana export, and its culinary traditions are based on the use of seafood, green banana, and coconut. These ingredients make its food unique and homely. An important fact is that the coconut is not considered native to America; it was introduced in the ships from Africa. One of the most representative’s dishes is rice with shrimp curry in coconut milk. Here’s a quick guide to making it.

First, let’s sort out the ingredients.

The ingredients for this dish are easily available. Coconut is the most integral part Image: Paz Abad Gonzalez

Ingredients:

  • Tomato
  • Garlic
  • Pepper
  • Onions
  • Carrot
  • Grater coconut
  • Coconut milk
  • Butter
  • Oil
  • Rice
  • Shrimp
  • Parsley
  • Salt

Procedure:

  • To begin, we need to chop some of the ingredients including tomato, garlic, pepper, parsley, onion and carrot -add them to the mixture. Also, we need to wash the shrimps  and de-skin them, and prepare the rice and keep it ready.
  • Now put butter in a pan and let it heat. Then fry the shrimps in the pan with a little bit of oil, add the chopped pepper, salt, garlic, onions, carrot and tomatoes.
  • Stir everything and, let it cook for a couple of minutes until the shrimps start to turn pink. Add the grater coconut and coconut juice, and cook all together until the water decreases. Then put the rice in the pan and mix it well with the shrimps.
A step by step guide! Image: Paz Abad Gonzalez
  • Let it cook for a couple of minutes until the water dries a bit, and then serve the dish. Be careful of the time you take to cook the shrimps; if you let them in the heat for too long, they harden and don’t taste like they should.
  • You can decorate this dish with parsley, carrot and chopped coconut, also serve it with some fried plantains.

 

This recipe is very popular in Ecuador, and you can order it any day of the year. It adds a sweet, comforting touch with the coconut, which, besides being a tropical fruit, is the highlight of a typical Esmeraldas meal. I chose rice as the main ingredient for the preparation of this dish because in Ecuador, rice is a common occurrence in everyday meals, especially in coastal areas.

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