Monday, September 5, 2011

Kerala Fish Curry

What? No fish curry on my blog? I have some left over coconut milk in the fridge and I want to make it a policy not to throw food away.

Onion, chopped -- 1
Garlic, peeled -- 4 to 6 cloves
Gingerroot, peeled and thinly sliced -- 1 (1-inch) piece
Chile peppers, chopped -- 1 to 6
Tamarind pulp -- 2 or 3 tablespoons
Warm water -- 1 1/2 cups
Oil -- 3 or 4 tablespoons
Mustard seeds -- 1 tablespoon
Ground coriander -- 1 tablespoon
Turmeric --2 teaspoons
Fenugreek -- 1 teaspoon
Curry leaves (optional) -- 4 to 6
Salt and pepper -- to taste
White fish, cut into bite-sized pieces -- 2 pounds
Coconut milk -- 1 1/2 cups

Place the onion, garlic, gingerroot and chilies in a blender or food processor and process until pureed but still a little chunky. You may have to add a little water and work in batches if using a blender.

Mix the tamarind pulp with the water and break it up with a fork or your hands to dissolve. Strain the tamarind water and discard the pulp.

Heat the oil in a large pot, kadhai or wok over medium-high flame. Add the mustard seeds and sauté until they start to pop. Add the dry spices quickly and stir just until they are absorbed by the oil. Do not allow the spices to burn.

Quickly add the onion puree and curry leaves. Reduce heat to low and cook until the liquid is reduced and the onions have lost their raw flavor, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the tamarind water, season with salt and pepper and simmer another 10 to 15 minutes to meld the flavors and reduce the liquid a little.

Stir in the fish ...

... and coconut milk and simmer slowly another 5 to 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Adjust seasoning and serve with basmati rice.

Fish curries in Kerala commonly use kudam puli (also known as kodampuli, kodum puli, kukum star or black tamarind) as a souring agent. This recipe uses regular tamarind as a substitute.
Kerala curry is good with a wide variety of fish. Use whatever is available to you.
Add 1/4 cup grated coconut with the tamarind water.
Add 1 cup chopped tomatoes if you like.
The dish is normally served quite spicy. Vary the number of chilies according to your taste.
Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of paprika along with the other spices.

I love my new De Buyer "Country Fry Pan" (24 cm). It's called a 'hapjes pan' in Dutch and has the same shape as a chef's pan (I think) but more importantly it has the same shape as an Indian/Pakistani "karahi". I used to own two original karahi's but they were made out of thin aluminum: completely useless. This country fry pan is made of heavy 99% iron - it weighs 1,5 kilo! It's perfect for curry's.
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