There’s nothing more comforting for a Malayali than a nice, earthen pot of spicy fish curry. That’s the taste of ‘home’ for us. This recipe is one of my favourite ways of making a good fish curry. The Malabar tamarind is mandatory for this recipe if you ask me but if you must substitute with store bought tamarind paste, that should work too. I have never cooked with it so, I cannot be a 100% sure as to the quantities though. This curry is supposed to be hot and tangy at the same time. This recipe works great with prawns too!
Things you will need:
- Fish (any firm variety of fish)- 500 grams cut into medium sized pieces. While in Europe I use Norwegian Salmon.
- Red onion, small – 1 chopped finely (or take half a medium sized one)
- Tomato- 1 large or 2 small, chopped
- Green chillies- 3 slit lengthwise
- Ginger- 1 inch stick, chopped finely
- Garlic- 6 cloves, sliced finely (if using the large variety, 2 cloves will do)
- Kashmiri red chilli powder- 1 heaped tablespoon
- Coriander powder- ½ tablespoon
- Turmeric powder- ½ teaspoon
- Coconut milk (thick)- 200 ml
- Malabar Tamarind (kudampuli)- 4 pieces soaked in a little more than ¼ cup water
- Coconut oil
- Black mustard seeds- 1 teaspoon
- Fenugreek seeds- ¼ teaspoon
- Salt to taste
- Curry leaves- 1 sprig
How to go about it:
- In a wok, heat two tablespoons of coconut oil. On medium heat. Add the mustard and fenugreek seeds and allow them to splutter. Next, add the finely chopped onion and saute until it turns golden brown. Adding a bit of salt right now helps speed up the process.
- Next, add the curry leaves, ginger, garlic and green chillies. Saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, give it all quick mix and keep the wok closed for two minutes or until the tomatoes turn nice and soft. Once the tomatoes soften, add the Kashmiri red chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder. Keep frying the mixture well for 2-3 minutes or until the oil begins to leave the sides of the mixture.
- Next, add the soaked tamarind bits with the water. Mix well. Add the coconut milk and mix it all up well. Bring to a boil. Add more salt if needed.
- Place the cut and cleaned pieces of fish into the bubbling curry. Mix lightly, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the fish curry to cook on a low heat for 15-20 minutes, with the wok closed. Check once or twice in between but DO NOT stir it all up with a ladle. You will end up breaking the fish pieces. Instead, firmly hold the wok on both sides and give a swirl. Careful!
- Once the fish is cooked and gravy has thickened, increase the heat one last time and allow it to bubble well. If you feel the gravy is too watery at this point, you can reduce it as desired right now. Otherwise, take the wok off the stove and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. This is the trick to get the flavours to settle and achieve the right balance.
- Serve warm. Tastes even better the next day!