BEGINNER ALMOND SHRIMP

Serves 4.

Note: Raghavan Iyer recommends this simple preparation to newcomers nervous about spices. The Bangala garam masala (an East Indian sweet blend) keeps, tightly sealed, for up to 2 months.

• 1/2 tsp. Bangala garam masala (see directions below)

• 2 tbsp. canola oil

• 1/4 c. slivered blanched almonds, ground

• 4 medium-size cloves garlic, finely chopped

• 1 large tomato, cored and finely chopped

• 1/2 tsp. cayenne (ground red pepper)

• 11/2 tsp. coarse kosher or sea salt

• 1 tsp. granulated sugar

• 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined

• 1/2 c. heavy cream

• 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

To make Bangala garam masala: In a spice or coffee grinder, combine 1 teaspoon whole cloves, 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds (green or white) and 4 cinnamon sticks, broken up. Grind until mix resembles coarsely ground black pepper. Sift through a fine mesh strainer and repeat with coarse pieces until you have 3 tablespoons of spice mix (you will only be using a little bit for this recipe).

To prepare the shrimp: Heat the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in almonds and garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until the nuts brown, 1 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the tomato, cayenne, salt, sugar and garam masala, scraping the skillet to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomato softens but still is firm-looking, 2 to 4 minutes.

Add the shrimp and pour in the cream, stirring once or twice. Lower heat to medium, cover the skillet and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are salmon-orange, curled and tender and the creamy-rich sauce is thick, 5 to 8 minutes.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 265 Fat 21 g Sodium 730 mg

Carbohydrates 7 g Saturated fat 7 g Calcium 71 mg

Protein 14 g Cholesterol 140 mg Dietary fiber 2 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1/2 other carb, 2 lean meat, 3 fat.

SOUSED CUCUMBERS IN YOGURT AND FRESH MINT

Serves 8.

Note: Tester suggests starting with just one chile, adding more if you want more heat. This will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

• 11/2 c. plain yogurt, whisked

• 1 tsp. coarse kosher or sea salt

• 1 large English cucumber, ends trimmed, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeds scooped out, shredded

• 1/2 c. firmly packed fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

• 1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground

• 2 or 3 fresh green Thai, cayenne or serrano chiles, to taste, stems removed, finely chopped (do not remove seeds)

Directions

In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine the yogurt, salt, cucumber, mint leaves, cumin and chiles. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 38 Fat 1 g Sodium 230 mg

Carbohydrates 5 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 98 mg

Protein 3 g Cholesterol 3 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable.

FRESH SQUEEZED LIME JUICE WITH SODA AND PEPPER

Serves 4.

Note: This is refreshing on its own, or you can add gin or vodka for a cocktail.

• Juice of 3 medium-size limes

• 1/2 c. granulated sugar

• 31/2 c. cold club soda or cold water

• 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher or sea salt

• 1/2 tsp. black peppercorns, coarsely cracked

Directions

Whisk together lime juice and sugar in a pitcher until sugar dissolves completely. Stir in club soda, salt and pepper. Serve over ice.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 104 Fat 0 g Sodium 245 mg

Carbohydrates 27 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 15 mg

Protein 0 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 other carb.