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Fried Fish (Pakoras) In Newfoundland

Driving across Newfoundland has its own charm, for how can you resist stopping at places named Heart's Desire, Come by Chance, Happy Adventure, or Dildo? In Newfoundland you can never forget that you are living on an island, for the sea is everywhere. You cannot drive very far without glimpsing a secluded cove, a quaint fishing village, or a lighthouse that has for centuries marked the way home for sailors and fishers.

The sea and the fish in it are a magnet for birds of every variety, and at Cape St. Mary's reserve the rocks teem with gannets, cormorants and gulls. Together they create an unbelievable cacophony and are quite oblivious to humans, allowing people to walk right up to them.

The seabirds are not the only creatures drawn to Newfoundland by the fish - we found it equally attractive!  Succulent lobster, halibut, cod, salmon and shrimp taste unbelievably sweet and fresh when they're just caught fresh off the Atlantic ocean and never been frozen. Dishes such as brewis, britches, figgy duff, flipper pie have quaint local names and a long interesting history for they were created by the island's original settlers.

The favourite local way to serve fish, and it is almost always cod, is to dip it in batter and fry it. On our long, meandering drives around the island, we ate fried fish in many small restaurants along the way, savouring its crisp crunch and fresh flavour.

These fish pakoras, flecked with fresh coriander and cumin seeds, are a wonderful Indian version of the fried fish we ate in Newfoundland! The chickpea flour and spices used in the batter add a unique flavour and crispness to the pakoras, making it impossible to stop after just eating one!

You can substitute diced potatoes, onions, paneer or chicken for the fish in this recipe. Serve with chutney to bring out all the delicious flavours!

Fish Pakoras

1 lb skinless Basa fillet or any other white fish such as haddock or cod

1 cup chickpea flour

Salt to taste

1 tbsp each: fresh lemon juice, chopped fresh coriander

1/2 tsp each: cumin seeds, cayenne pepper, dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi), baking powder

3/4 cup water

Oil for deep frying

Cut fish into 2 inch chunks.

Combine remaining ingredients in deep mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. The mixture should be the consistency of pancake batter, thick enough to coat the fish pieces but not too watery.

Add fish and turn it around gently to coat with batter.

Pour oil in deep skillet, wok or deep fryer so that it comes up to about 2 inches in the pan (enough to submerge the fish). Warm it  over medium heat. Line a platter with paper towels.

Drop fish in gently, taking care not to crowd pan. Fry until cooked through, lightly golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining fish. Serve hot.

Serves four