Skip to main content

Taste the World: Clams with Curry Leaves and a Gentle Curry Sauce

clams with curry leaves and gentle curry sauce

Experience what the world has to offer with a recipe from acclaimed Chef O Tama Carey. As part of our Taste Dining at Home series, in partnership with Taste Festivals, we’ve invited globally renowned chefs to create recipes to help you make the most out of every day at home.

To follow along with Chef O Tama as she makes the full recipe, watch the video below. And to find Chef Clayton’s roasted flounder recipe also featured in this video, click here.


Clams with Curry Leaves and a Gentle Curry Sauce

By Chef O Tama Carey

A note from Chef O Tama: I have a special fondness for clams as I love having to work a little for my food and there’s something satisfying about being able to pick through and suck the shells. This dish has inspiration from Italy with the anchovies and bay leaves, while also drawing on my love of Sri Lankan food with its spiced curry sauce. Both curry and bay leaves have always featured heavily in my cooking and they are an excellent flavour match when combined.

What You’ll Need (Serves 4, mild heat level)

¼ cup ghee
6 anchovy fillets
1 cup loosely packed curry leaves
3 banana eschalots, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 long green chilies, sliced into rounds
Lemongrass, 3 cm from the base, left whole and bruised with the flat of a knife
3 bay leaves bruised with your hand
1 kg clams, soaked in salted water to purge of sand
200 ml coconut cream
100 ml water
Salt flakes and ground white pepper to season

For the spice mix:
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp white peppercorns
1 tsp salt flakes
1 tsp turmeric
2 cardamom pods, bruised

How to Prepare It

Place the coriander, fennel, cumin and peppercorns into a small pan and lightly toast together on a gentle heat for 4-5 minutes. Transfer the spices to a mortar and pestle, along with the salt and turmeric, and pound until fine. Set aside along with the cardamom pods.

Place a large wide-based pan over a medium heat and add in the ghee and anchovies, stirring constantly until the anchovies melt. At this stage, add in the curry leaves, eschalots, garlic and chilies. Cook until the curry leaves are looking fried and the eschalots are softened, about 3-4 minutes.

Add in the lemongrass, bay leaves and clams. Give it a good stir to coat. Then add in the coconut cream and water.

Cover your pot with a lid and let the clams cook and open, raising the lid occasionally to give it a little stir and check on their progress. They should take only about 5 minutes to all fully open.

Serve immediately.

Hot tips from Chef O Tama:

  • This sauce will work equally as well with mussels using the same method. You can also make the sauce without the clams and use it to poach any white-fleshed fish, either in a fillet or cut into smaller pieces.
  • If you want to give this sauce a little more of a Sri Lankan feel, you can substitute the anchovies with Maldive fish flakes. Add 2 tbsp along with the curry leaves.
  • Another good addition to this dish is bacon or speck — it gives it an extra richness. Use 80 g, chopped into smallish pieces, and add at the beginning along with the anchovies.
  • You can add or subtract the amount of chili according to your heat tolerance.
  • This dish is equally good served with steamed rice or some warm crusty bread. I would go with a baguette.