My all time favorite fish curry…
How many times have I mentioned that Kappa (Tapioca) and fish curry is a match truly made in paradise??? A gazillion??? I will keep on saying this, so please bare with me. If I hadn’t born and raised in Kerala I wouldn’t have admired this dish as much as I do now. As many of you know that Kerala food is spicy and is very flavorful, in fact very very flavorful. You wouldn’t come across any blant food while in Kerala. Chances are that if you are a non-Keralite and dining in a restaurant you would make a request to the chef to go easy on the spices And yes you will drink a lot of water too. Once I took one of my Chinese friends to a South Indian restaurant and the only thing she did was sipping water.
According to me, one of the benefits of being a Keralite is that we know how to enjoy both spicy and non-spicy food ( at least we try to). If you are someone who grew up eating non-spicy food, it would be hard for you to handle spicy food. When I first moved to the US, after a few weeks of eating chicken I started craving for fish. My hubby took me to an American restaurant and we ordered salmon. I took a bite of the salmon and I asked my man “where’s the spice???” He passed the freshly ground pepper to me and asked me to sprinkle over the fish. I kept sprinkling and sprinkling…Well, it took some time for me to get used to the non-spicy and blant dishes in other cuisines. At times, when I cook other cuisines in my kitchen I get tempted to add chili powder as well.
Have you ever thought about the reason for adding so much spice and tamarind to fish curries in South India? Well, during the times when there were no refrigerator to store/preserve the fish, the only way the primitive people had was by adding more spice and tamarind juice. Also, fish was in abundance in South India. People got used to the spice; even after the invention of refrigerators we continue to add spices and tamarind to the fish curries. The reason why we add now is: it’s damn delicious!
I had already posted the recipe for making a few types of fish curries that are commonly made in my family and in Kerala. This one is yet another kind of fish curry which I often make to serve with Kappa. This is a very easy recipe that can be made in no time and the tastes terrific too.
I used king fish or neymeen, you can use any kind of fish. Sardines (Chaala), mackerel (ayala), Pomfret (avoli), anchovies (netholi), tilapia etc.
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Step by Step Pictures
- King fish, medium sized- 8 pieces (or add any other fish)
- Coconut oil- 2 tbsp
- Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
- Fenugreek seeds- ½ tsp
- Curry leaves- 1 sprig + more for garnishing
- Ginger, minced- 2 inch
- Garlic, minced- 3 cloves
- Green chili, minced- 2 or 3 ( add more of you want really spicy)
- Small onions, chopped- 12
- Turmeric powder- ¼ tsp
- Kashmiri red chili powder- 1½ tsp
- Coriander powder- 1½ tsp
- Ground pepper- ½ tsp
- Tamarind, fresh- 2 inch soaked in ⅛ cup warm water (strain the juice)
- Water- 1¼ cups
- Salt- to taste
- While cleaning the fish add salt and rinse under running water, salt will help to remove any smell in the fish.
- Soak the fresh tamarind in warm water, strain the juice, keep aside. If using concentrated tamarind paste use very less ( 1 tsp or so) according to your needs.
- Place a clay or non-stick saucepan over medium heat.
- Add coconut oil, let it turn hot.
- Add mustard seeds, let it splutter.
- Add fenugreek seeds, saute till it turns light brown in color.
- Add curry leaves, saute for a second.
- Add minced ginger, garlic and green chilies, saute till they turn golden in color.
- Add small onions, and a few pinches of salt, saute till translucent.
- Add turmeric powder, kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder and ground pepper to the onions, saute for a few seconds. Don't burn the spices.
- Add tamarind juice, combine well.
- Add water and salt to taste, let the water come to a boil.
- Add the king fish into the boiling water, cover the pan with its lid.
- Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- After that simmer the heat and cook for a few more minutes till the gravy has slightly thickened.
- Have a taste, add more salt or ground pepper if needed.
- Garnish with more curry leaves if you want.
- Serve this fish curry along with Kappa (tapioca) or rice or even chapatis.
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Thas is the author of Cooking with Thas, a popular food blog with recipes from Indian, American and Fusion Cuisines. She has been blogging since 2009 and been featured in several magazines. Read more...
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