Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Oh Fish!

That's what a vegetarian would say to this post.

I couldn’t define it but ‘a’ something has been bothering me for the past few days. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, I got it. I did not begin at the beginning. I should start where it all started. I went down a few memory highways and here is paying homage to one hot afternoon of an otherwise wasted day.

Sorry, the above build up is only for a fish curry - my all time favorite food. I like it as a combo pack of rice, fish curry, cabbage thoran (cabbage cooked with grated coconut and few other things) and yoghurt, if only we had fast food joint for this – KFC – Kerala Fish Curry.

This is the first dish I ever learned to make; my grand aunt taught me how to cook this during my seventh grade summer holidays. Somehow the recipe just stayed with me. I guess this is what Paulo Coelho meant when he wrote "when you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your blog sees the light of the day". I see this major event of my life like a movie running in my head right this minute.

Reel 1:

She first washed the fish, about 5 medium pieces and then…

1.      Sliced 5 small onions
2.      Went on to do the same to a small piece of ginger and 3 garlic pods.
3.      Washed and kept aside some curry leaves
4.      Took out some tamarind, added about 1 glass of water and mixed well with her fingers, the tamarind’s sourness oozed out.
5.      Took the spice boxes out and kept them handy – turmeric, coriander and chilly powder.
6.      Split open a coconut, grated one half, which she then proceeded to make a pulp of to strain out the coconut milk. Of course now we get ready made coconut milk making life so easy. Nevertheless this is an optional step. Can be added if you don’t like haute curry.

Having set all this aside, which by the way hardly took her anytime, she put the pan on stove and poured a bit of oil, about 1 tablespoon. To this she put some mustard seeds, waited for it to splutter and then added the cut onions, ginger and garlic along with the curry leaves. She then measured out a quarter teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 tablespoon of coriander powder, 2 and a half tablespoons of chilly powder, stirring all the while. She added the final (secret?) ingredient - a pinch of fenugreek powder. This supposedly makes the gravy thick. You should stir it enough to take out the raw taste but be careful not to burn the spices. She poured the tamarind juice (juice?!) into this, added about 1 teaspoon of salt and brought it to boil; put the fish pieces, added more water so that the pieces are immersed in the gravy.

She kept it closed at medium flame for about 15 minutes. Here is the tip for the day. Fish is cooked when the oil separates - which means you will start seeing films of oil on top. At this point, she added the coconut milk and kept it at low flame for another 15 minutes.

If you like this to taste like an authentic KFC, add one teaspoon coconut oil on top and sprinkle liberal amount of curry leaves.

This by the way is the fast food version of fish curry. The real one will follow soon. Already tired?


  1. Oh Fish!!!

    Tat's what pure NON-Veggie will say tooo.. !! after reading this.. I'm really missing it..
    ha ha..

    Jan please ask 'SHE' to get some when she prepares it next time..

  2. waw..good one!! keep posting some good recipes like this..Wl try this one in the weekend :-)

  3. I will enjoy eating this as much as I enjoyed reading this !!

  4. i have tasted this dish of urs!! its truly yummmmmy!!

  5. remember hostel days :-) ...fishcurry & yogurt :-)