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A Mussels Recipe that Pairs Perfect with Wine

Courtesy Gary Singh, executive chef, Bibi Ji, Santa Barbara, CA

Aquaculturalist Bernard Friedman grows these shellfish at Hope Ranch on the Santa Barbara coast. Traditional mussel preparations abound throughout the region, but this Indian-inspired dish by Executive Chef Gary Singh of Bibi Ji, co-owned by renowned sommelier and author Rajat Parr, makes for a heavily spiced, addictively delicious diversion from the norm.

Hope Ranch Mussels


½ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1-inch piece ginger, peeled
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon salt
1 quart tomato sauce
2 ½ tablespoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 ¾ tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chile powder
2 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup cream
5 pounds mussels
1 cup cilantro leaves


Heat olive oil on high in pot. Lower heat and add cloves garlic and ginger, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add yellow onion and salt. Cook onion until soft, 5–10 minutes. Add tomato sauce, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin, paprika and chili powder. Season with salt, to taste. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and add lemon juice and cream. Cook for 5 minutes to merge flavors.

In different saucepan, bring sauce and mussels to full boil and cook until all mussels open. Add water, to thin, if desired. Remove any unopened mussels and garnish with 1 cup cilantro leaves. Serves 4.

Pair It

Alejandro Medina, Bibi Ji’s managing partner, recommends Lo-Fi 2016 Riesling (Santa Barbara County). “The texture and acidity in the wine balance the saltiness and spice of our mussels,” he says.

“Lo-Fi winemakers Mike Roth and Craig Winchester produce wines in a natural form and work with organically farmed vineyards.”

Tortoise Creek 2017 Cuvée Jeanne Sauvignon Blanc (Central Coast) is a casual option with mellow and refreshing lime, apple and guava notes to balance the spice.