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Saffron Mussel Stew

From <i>Modern Spice</i> by Monica Bhide. Copyright 2009 by Monica Bhide. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Serves 4

Prep/Cook Time: 25 minutes (longer if using fresh mussels)


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1⁄2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 20 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 or 3 small green serrano chiles, finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander powder
  • 1 1⁄2 cups chicken broth
  • 1⁄4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound mussels on the half-shell, such as New Zealand Greenshell Mussels
  • Table salt
  • A few strands of saffron



  1. In a deep saucepan, heat the oil over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, and green chiles. Sauté for 4 to 6 minutes, until the onion begins to change color.
  2. Add the turmeric and coriander. Mix well and sauté for another 30 seconds.
  3. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the cream. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Transfer to a blender and blend to a smooth consistency. If you like an even smoother texture, pass the mixture through a sieve. I prefer not to do so.
  5. Return the sauce to the saucepan and bring to another gentle boil.
  6. Add the mussels and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, shaking the saucepan occasionally.
  7. Add salt to taste and the saffron threads and mix well. Serve hot.

TIP: If using whole fresh mussels, you will need 1 1/2 pounds. Soak in cold water for an hour. Discard any that open up. Remove beards and rinse well. Then pat dry and proceed with the recipe.

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