Ingredients (Serves 4)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 large shallots, thinly sliced, 4 for curry base, 1 for garnish
4 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon each of the following ground spices: fennel, coriander, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, cinnamon, clove, allspice, chile, black pepper
1/2 lemon, for juice
1/2 lime, for juice
2 tablespoon pineapple juice
1 (15-ounce) can tomatoes in juice, chopped
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and very thinly sliced
1 cup of small chickpeas, rinsed
1 cup fish or shrimp stock
3 pounds cultivated mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, leaves picked off stem and stems reserved
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
Let de-bearded, scrubbed mussels soak in a basin of water with a few ice cubes. Poor 1/4 cup of plain flour into the water, stir and let sit while you prepare your curry base. (The mussels will ingest the flour and will expel any sand or grit that is in their digestive system, which makes them a good deal more pleasant and plump.)
Curry Base: Sauté garlic and shallots in 2 tablespoons olive oil. When golden, add fresh grated ginger and 1/2 teaspoon each of ground fennel, coriander, cumin, tumeric, fenugreek, cinnamon, clove, allspice, chili and black pepper. Cook over high heat. Add chopped tomatoes, and chopped cilantro stems and let simmer. Add lemon, lime and pineapple juice, continuing to simmer. Purée until smooth.
To Serve: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in an 8-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add thinly sliced fennel and sauté until just tender. Add curry base, chick peas and fish stock. Check for seasoning (add a few drops of lemon juice or pinch of salt and fresh pepper to taste). Add mussels and cook, covered until they are just open.
Spoon mussels with the tomato, fennel, chickpea-laden broth into bowls. Garnish with several spoonfuls of Greek yogurt, a tangle of cilantro leaves and thinly sliced shallots, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with slices of grilled ciabatta or flatbread toast doused in olive oil.