Mussels with saffron

Mussels with saffron

I Love Curry
Jonathan Gregson

This curry is a reflection of my childhood, as we spent many holidays in France and I have fond memories of eating light saffron-flavoured seafood dishes under the sun. I wanted to evoke those meals, but to give them a new life and zest with Indian flavours, particularly ginger and chillies. There is plenty of sauce to mop up with rice or a hunk of bread. Make sure the mussels are as fresh as can be and buy extra; even if you cook them the day you buy them, there are often a few that are unuseable. Any raw mussels that are open and do not close when firmly tapped on the counter should be thrown away, as should any that remain closed once cooked.


Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
25 black peppercorns
2 1/2 small onions, chopped
4-6 green chillies, whole but pierced
35g ginger, peeled weight, grated into a paste
5 garlic cloves, grated into a paste
2 1/2 tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
good pinch saffron (around 20-25 strands), slightly crumbled, or to taste
salt, to taste
1kg mussels, scrubbed and debearded
150ml double cream
a little chopped fresh coriander, to serve


  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan large enough to hold all the mussels. Add the peppercorns and follow with the onions, cooking them until lightly golden. Add the green chillies, ginger and garlic pastes and gently sauté until the garlic smells cooked; it should take about two minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, spices and salt and cook, stirring often and lightly mashing the tomatoes with a spoon, for 10–12 minutes, or until you have a thick masala that has released oil back into the pan. Taste it; there should be no harsh flavours.
  3. Add 500ml water and bring to a boil. Simmer for five minutes. Add the mussels, cover, shake, then simmer for three minutes or until the mussels have opened. Add the cream, taste and adjust the seasoning, saffron and ground fennel seed to taste. The sauce should be lightly creamy. If it is too watery, put your mussels in a warmed serving bowl while you boil the sauce to reduce it, then pour this back over the mussels. Stir in the chopped coriander and serve.
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