Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kerala Fish Curry....

Kerala Fish Curry...., originally uploaded by lorises.

Here is a fish curry that has gone through some cultural changes... My friend Robin whose parents are originally from Kerala but he grew up mostly in Bharatpur in Rajasthan and now work in the forests of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and more recently in the US. Therefore Robin's cooking skill has evolved like his taste buds! He has made this mazing fish curry in traditional Kerala style with little bit of Bengali influence. This is supposed to be a special fish curry that one makes for special occasion because you need to make the coconut milk and fry the fish pieces. Here in the USA, it is easier to make coconut milk because you can just buy it from the Asian stores. Nowadays, even some grocery stores keep them in their Asian grocery section. If you are not afraid of buying the regular coconut milk then the curry taste much better than the low fat coconut milk from Trader Joes or Whole Foods. We tried both with low fat and whole coconut milk. Robin recommends it marinade the fish few hours before you cook the curry. This fish curry taste even better a day after.... oh... my mouth is getting filled up by water...!!! Thank you Robin.

For the fish curry, heres the really simple recipe
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Turmeric powder - 2 spoons
Chilly powder - 2 spoons
Red Onion - 2 large
Tomato - 2 large
Lime -1
vegetable Oil - quite a bit
Fish - suggested Tilapia (cat fish doesn't work well) - 4 big fillets (feeds 3-4 people as the only dish)
Ginger and garlic paste - 2 spoons
Coconut milk (unsweetened - this is very important) - 2 cans (I found a brand called 'goya' at Kroger to be fairly good)

A. Prepare the marinate for the fish:
1. Mix 1 spoon turmeric, 1 spoon chilly powder, salt (about 1/2 spoon) to taste, ginger & garlic paste, juice of half a lemon and 2 spoons of oil.
2. Smear the marinate on medium size pieces of fish
3. Marinate minimum for 15 minutes, best if marinated for 4-5 hours or more (I marinate over night)
4. Fry the fish in oil. Dont worry if the fish is spicy by itself, the dish wont be spicy at the end.
B. Prepare the sauce
1. Add one spoon of oil in a hot wok and when its hot add sliced onion and cook till it is soft and light brown.
family: arial; font-size: 13px;">2. Add diced tomatoes to this and let it cook till the tomatoes break down into pulp.
3. add 1 spoon of chilly powder and 1/2 spoon of turmeric powder and salt to taste. Mix well.
4. Add coconut milk and fried fish pieces (or should I say "product from step-A") and bring it to boil. You can add some water to increase the quantity of sauce but best if cooked entirely in coconut milk.  
5. Add the juice from 1/2 lime
6. Stir very gently and in one direction (clockwise or anticlockwise) so that fish pieces dont crumble.
7. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes in low flame. Adjust salt levels. If the dish is too spicy add more coconut milk. (I usually make the dish with 1.5 cans and then use the last half to adjust the spice if necessary).
8. Let the dish stand till it cools down (tastes better when cool and even better the next day!

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