From the villages of Tamil Nadu, a yummy Fish curry – Makerel curry…
I’m sure you are surprised to see my post today.. been ages isn’t it? I’m not going to apologise this time.. because it looks like I have been doing the disappearing act too often. Whats kept me busy was shifting.. Can you believe it???@!!! Gosh yes,!! you read it right.. In the last 2 years I have only been shifting houses every 5-6 months. Now you can’t complain about me playing the disappearing act, since each one of you would have experienced it at some time in your lives. Phew!!! That is the nitty-gritty of the disappearance act, been busy setting up my house & buying all the required ingredients to stock up my pantry. I love new places, meeting new people, making new friends, yes.. but I have been doing it way too often now.. but glad this time I’m still in Bangalore.. :)
Things seem to have changed in Bangalore. New places are up, old places have vanished.. not just the store being renovated or taken over by a new business, there are whole new buildings that have come up & changed the whole outlook of the place.My scouting around for ingredients is almost over. I think I have found my places now, but the whole issue this time around is that I don’t find things in stock when I go to buy them… & they lie there on the shelves when I don’t need them.
Now cutting out all my usual rantings… this curry is just plain wonderful.. If you love a fish curry that’s such a heavenly blend of different ingredients then, this is it.. you have found the right recipe. Isn’t that colour very tempting? Oh, come on! it sure is.. Well if the colour is not then go ahead & cook it.. you will then agree that to the fact that the aroma is very tempting indeed :D. Just the right curry to cook small fish in. This recipe was passed on to me by my aunt. She had this curry ready when I reached her home for dinner and the foodie that I am, just loved it from the very first whiff from the fish pot.
The villages in Tamil Nadu have distinct & very flavourful recipes, unlike the urban ones which focus on quick & easy ways to prepare the same dish. This dish tastes yummier when the freshly ground paste is prepared using the stone grinder & the paste ground with loads of love using the hand held pestle, this device is referred to as the ambi (the base) & kulavi (the stone part that moves & grinds). Chutney or any paste ground using this has a completely different flavour.
I have used earthenware to cook the fish curry, just like my aunt did :). My grandmother always cooked fish in earthenware on firewood. It sure does add a lovely flavour to the curry. Damn! I had to give up the idea of cooking using firewood because I do not have that setup with me. But those of you who have had their grandmother/mothers cook fish curry in earthenware on firewood would know what I mean.. it is absolutely delicious. If you get a chance to cook this curry that way… go ahead & indulge :)!
Ingredients: (Serves 3-4) Preparation Time: 60 mins
Baby Mackerel/any small fish of your choice – 1/2 kg, cleaned & drained
Note: I do not cook the fish with its head, but you could if you wish to
Onion – 1 medium-sized, finely chopped
Green chilli’s – 2, chopped
Tomatoes – 2 medium-sized, cubed
Coriander leaves – 3 sprigs, chopped
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
To prepare the freshly ground paste
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Fennel seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Garlic – 10 medium-sized cloves
Shallots/sambhar onions – 3-4, peeled
Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp or more, use as per your taste
Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves – a handful
Coconut Oil – 2 tbsp, use oil of your choice if you do not like the flavour of coconut oil
Heat 2 tbsp of coconut oil in a fry pan. Set heat at medium. Add the fenugreek seeds, fry them till they begin to turn soft, throw in the onions. Fry till the onion turns translucent. Now add all the other ingredients mentioned for the fresh paste. Fry all the ingredients for a couple of minutes. Lower the heat if the fry pan gets too hot, we do not want to burn the ingredients. Once you can smell the heavenly aroma of all the ingredients turn the heat off, let it cool.
Once the ingredients for the paste have cooled down, blend all of them into a smooth paste.
Heat 2 tbsp of coconut oil in a pot. Set heat to medium. Once the oil heats up, fry the chopped onions, green chilli’s & tomatoes together. Throw in some salt to help fry them quicker. Once the tomatoes loosen up & the onions turn translucent, add the freshly ground paste. Mix well. Add 500 ml of water & mix well. Let the curry come to a boil. Now drop in the cleaned fish into the curry. Add salt to taste. Simmer & let the fish cook & absorb all the flavours.
Note: In about 5-8 minutes the fish should be cooked. Do over-cook the fish, since they are small fish, they can easily disintegrate into the curry.
Garnish with chopped coriander & curry leaves.
Serve hot with a bowl of rice or chapatis’. And yes, traditionally eaten with Dosa/Idli as an accompaniment!
If you like this recipe, then you may also like – Quick fish curry – Salmon Phanna Upkari, Alle Piyava Ghashi/Konkani style Fish curry.., Meen Molee/Boneless fish pieces in a fragrant Kerala style coconut curry, Fish Fry with a Konkani style batter, Tava fried prawns etc.