Arizona Desert Shrimp in Coconut and Walnut Curry

Danielle Leoni

The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, Phoenix

This recipe celebrates the bounty of the Sonoran Desert and the tropical traditions of Jamaica. I use shrimp raised in the natural aquifers of Arizona, which have a unique, subtly sweet flavor, and an excellent texture. The sweetness of the shrimp, the richness of the coconut, and the West Indian–style curry combine to show that, even inland, we can make delicious dishes using sustainable seafood.

This is a recipe from our digital cookbook, "A Place at the Table" featuring our Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) program alum. Download the full cookbook.

Prep time: 20 minutes 
Total time: 50 minutes


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces (about 4 medium) red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 large onion, finely chopped

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 scallions, finely sliced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1 tablespoon hot or mild Blue Mountain Country West Indian curry powder (or a similar West Indian-style curry powder)

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons freshly ground coriander seeds

1 large tomato, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 (13 1/2 ounces) can coconut milk

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

2 red serrano chiles, finely chopped

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 pound Arizona Desert Shrimp (or other 26/30 size shrimp), peeled and deveined, tails left intact  

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro, for garnish

1 lime, cut into wedges


In a large, non-stick pan, warm the olive oil over low heat and saute the potatoes until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and stir until the onions are transparent and the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the scallions, garlic, and parsley, and cook until the garlic is softened but not browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Toss in the curry powder, coriander, paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook until the spices are just barely toasted and fragrant.

Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, thyme, chiles, and walnuts, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Gently fold in the shrimp and simmer until the shrimp just turn pink, about 3 to 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with cilantro and serve warm with white rice and lime wedges.