The warm heat of Kashmiri chili with fresh ginger, garlic, toasted spices and cooling, fresh watermelon, served with pan-seared, wild Gulf shrimp and aged Basmati rice..
1/2 pound fresh shrimp, peeled & deveined
2-1/2 cups fresh watermelon, cut into 3/4-inch cubes, divided
1/3 cup diced onion
3 garlic cloves
1-1/2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
1-inch piece true cinnamon
1 tablespoon Kashmiri chili powder
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon nigella sativa (charnushka)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
pinch of sugar
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 fresh lemon
Combine garlic, coriander, cumin, nigella, turmeric, ginger and sugar in a large Molcajete (a mortar made of volcanic stone), using a pestle to grind into a pulp. Add half of the watermelon and grind into a thin paste. Scrape contents into a clean bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Place cinnamon in hot ghee and cook until it begins to unfurl, about 5 minutes. Don’t let the butter burn.
Remove cinnamon and discard; increase heat to medium high. Once the ghee is shimmering, add the onions and shrimp and sear quickly until very lightly-browned, about 2 minutes. Add watermelon and spice mixture, and let sizzle and fry until thickened, about 3 minutes.
Add remaining chunks of watermelon, stir to combine and heat another 2 minutes. Squeeze a fresh lemon over the top and serve hot with aged basmati or naan, if you like.