Born in Kentucky to Sri Lankan parents, Samantha Fore masterfully blends Southern and South Asian ingredients and cooking techniques to create dishes that represent her background. At first glance, this recipe for Poached Shrimp Curry with Coconut Rice Middlins might look like traditional shrimp and grits, but it’s flavored with lemongrass, garlic, ginger, Madras curry powder, and lime. Fore says, “This recipe is a callback to my childhood when my mother would make beautifully scented and spiced curries.” Fore uses creamy rice middlins as the base for this curry, but you can substitute rice or grits if you prefer. Through her Lexington-based traveling pop-up Tuk Tuk Lex, Fore serves up other Southern favorites that nod to her upbringing like fried chicken brined in a buttermilk-curry mixture. Serving delicious food isn’t Fore’s only mission with Tuk Tuk, she aims to expand people’s minds and palates too. “If I can push those borders a bit, then it’s all worth it,” she says. For this reason, and many more, Fore is one of our 2020 Cooks of the Year.


Credit: Johnny Autry; Prop and Food Styling: Charlotte L. Autry

Recipe Summary

20 mins
45 mins
25 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Heat coconut milk in a large saucepan over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until blended and warm, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer ½ cup to a medium saucepan; set aside remaining coconut milk.

  • Stir 2 ½ cups water, grits, coconut oil, and 1 teaspoon of the salt into warm coconut milk in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high, and reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring often, until grits are tender and liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.

  • While rice grits cook, add onion, tomato, banana pepper, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, curry powder, fenugreek, turmeric, tamarind, cinnamon stick, curry leaf sprig (if desired), remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and serrano chile to remaining warmed coconut milk in large saucepan. Sprinkle with several grinds of pepper. Simmer over medium-low, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.

  • Add shrimp; poach until just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat; discard lemongrass, cinnamon, and curry leaf sprig. Stir in lime juice; add salt and pepper to taste. Serve shrimp curry over rice grits, and garnish with scallions or chile threads.