Adapted from Savoring the Spice Coast of India: Fresh Flavors from Kerala by Maya Kaimal.

Serves 8 as a first course
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Recipe may be prepared in advance through Step 1.

Mussels and clams are harvested along the coast of Kerala, and they are very tasty steamed in coconut milk. This recipe is extremely simple, yet it has vibrant tropical flavors that make it a real winner. It makes a great first course served in shallow bowls with lots of sauce.

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • Ground masala:
    • 3 teaspoons coriander
    • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups canned coconut milk
  • 3 pounds fresh mussels, or small clams, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the onions and fry over medium-high heat until the edges turn light brown. Next add the ginger and continue frying for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Put in the ground masala and stir for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the salt, coconut milk, and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Now put in the mussels, spooning some of the sauce over them. Cover and steam 7 minutes or until all the shells open. Remove from the heat. Discard any shells that aren't open.

Sprinkle with the lemon juice and cilantro and stir gently. Spoon the mussels into individual bowls along with some of the sauce. Serve immediately.