3 cups long-grain rice (preferably basmati)
1 large onion
1-inch piece gingerroot, peeled
6 garlic cloves
5 tablespoons peanut oil
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Scant 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon each of cumin powder, ground coriander, and Indian red chile powder (or cayenne pepper)
Salt, to taste
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
Juice of 1 large lime or lemon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using basmati rice, rinse several times in cold water until water runs clean. Soak in water 2 inches above rice for 10 minutes; drain.
Purée onion, gingerroot, and garlic in food processor. In medium sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add purée, and sauté until golden, stirring frequently. Add tomato, and cook until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Add poppy seeds, turmeric, cumin, coriander, chile powder, and salt. Continue sautéing another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Stir in vinegar and sugar. Add shrimp to pan in single layer, with sauce evenly distributed. Cook about 1 minute, until shrimp turn opaque on one side. Repeat on other side. Remove from heat.
In large saucepan, bring to rapid boil 3 quarts lightly salted water with cinnamon and bay leaves. Add rice. Cover; return to boil. Uncover, and cook over high heat 3 to 5 minutes. Drain in colander; remove cinnamon and bay leaves.
Heat remaining oil in sauté pan; transfer to casserole dish with tight-fitting lid, swirling dish to coat evenly. Add 1/2 rice in layer, spread shrimp over rice, and cover with remaining rice. Sprinkle with juice. Cover, and bake 20 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Fluff lightly with fork, and arrange on platter. Serve at room temperature. Serves 10 To 12.
From Savoring Summer, featured in Domain, May 1990