Recipes

Kerala Fish Curry

This Kerala style fish curry is rich with tomatoes and spices, especially chilies! Adding coconut milk right in the end helps mellow the heat while adding creaminess to the sauce. My recipe is based on one I got from a friend in Bangalore, Preetha. A true foodie who loves to cook for her family, Preetha is vegetarian herself but manages to create delicious chicken and fish dishes in authentic Kerala style for her appreciative family.

She recommends making this curry in a traditional earthenware pot also known as a Chatti, for the aroma and flavour it imparts to the dish. The fish is never stirred with a spoon. Instead, the chatti is gently shaken from side to side to ensure even cooking and to avoid breaking up the fish as it cooks. The first marination of the fish in lemon juice helps get rid of some of its strong aroma while the second marination adds to its flavour. Serve it with Coconut rice.

1 1/4 lb skinless Halibut fillet, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp each: salt, turmeric

A small piece of tamarind, about the size of a large marble

1/2 cup hot water

1 tsp each, divided:  ground coriander, dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)

1/2 tsp each, divided: cayenne pepper, mustard powder, ground ginger, garam masala

or

1 tbsp Malabar Masala Powder

2 tbsp oil

6 cloves garlic, smashed

20 fresh curry leaves

1/4 tsp black mustard seeds

1 cup (about 6) canned whole plum tomatoes, pureed

1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

2 tbsp each: chopped fresh coriander, chopped fresh curry leaves

Place fish in large mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, salt and turmeric. Marinate at room temperature for 15 min.

Meanwhile, soak tamarind in hot water for 15 min. Mash it occasionally to soften.

Drain fish, pat dry with paper towels and transfer to clean bowl. Add 1/2 tsp each of ground coriander, dried fenugreek leaves and 1/4 tsp each of cayenne pepper, mustard powder, ground ginger and garam masala. Toss well to coat fish with spices and marinate at room temperature for 15 min.

Strain tamarind through a fine sieve and reserve extract, discarding the fibrous residue left in the sieve.

Warm oil in deep skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Saute for 1 min until seeds begin to pop and garlic turns lightly golden. Add pureed tomatoes, tamarind extract and remainder of the spices. Stir to mix, cover skillet and cook on low heat for 5-7 min.

Add marinated fish and coat gently with the sauce. Cover skillet again and cook for about 10 min on low heat until fish is cooked through, shaking skillet occasionally for even cooking. Fold in coconut milk and cook uncovered for another 4-5 min until mixture starts bubbling, shaking skillet occasionally. Fold in chopped fresh coriander and curry leaves.

Serves four

Bengal Fish Curry

This curry is made Bengali style with coconut milk and mustard. Serve over basmati rice for a satisfying meal.

Ingredients:
1 lb (500g) skinless Sea Bass fillet, cut into 2 inch chunks
Salt to taste
½ tsp turmeric
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ inch piece ginger, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, thinly sliced
1 cup canned plum tomatoes
1 cup premium coconut milk
1 tsp each: garam masala, ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric, red chilli powder (cayenne pepper)
1 tbsp prepared grainy Dijon mustard
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

 
Method:

Place fish in deep mixing bowl. Add salt, ½ tsp turmeric and lemon juice. Toss well to coat, cover and refrigerate 15 min.
Meanwhile, warm oil in deep non-stick skillet set over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, sauté 30 sec till they start spluttering. Add garlic, ginger, onions and green chillies. Sauté until onions are lightly softened, about 5 min. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 - 7 min until they break down and blend into the sauce. Add coconut milk, salt, remaining spices and mustard. Mix well, cover skillet and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 5 min until sauce has thickened slightly.
Wash fish and dry gently with paper towels. Add fish pieces to skillet, stirring to coat with sauce. Cover skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 10 min or until fish is cooked through and tender.
Fold in fresh coriander.

Serves Four.