This spicy, tangy, finger-licking fish curry is a well-kept secret of my hometown,Tuticorin, a small seaside town in South India. Every native Tuticorinite knows that the best South Indian fish curry has to be from Tuticorin 🙂
Tuticorin fish market is filled with fresh fish caught that morning, sometimes even still alive. How many of you can look at a fish and tell if it is fresh? I can’t, but my mom can. She goes early in the morning to choose the best ones. I used to eagerly watch her clean the fish, cut it, wash it with turmeric and make the most amazing fish curry. Oh My God.. my mouth is watering right now just thinking about the spicy red chilies, tangy tamarind, sweet coconut, aromatic cilantro, ginger and coriander combining with the freshest fish. I am sooo soo thankful to whoever first realized this combination of yumminess. You should try this, my friends! You are missing out on too much, if you don’t…
DID YOU KNOW?
- In the Indian medical view, fish helps to reduce kapha, but depresses the digestive fire, and are hence best consumed during seasons, when, or by those in whom digestion is strong. Freshwater fish are fattening and leave no residue, and sea-fish are muscle builders.
- Fish eyes, especially from the mackerel family, contain a rich quantity of DHA and EPA, both very rare unsaturated fatty acids. The most beneficial property of these natural substances is their ability to stimulate human brain cells, which improves memory and thinking power.
Cuisine: South Indian
Serves: 4 Adults
|Tamarind (tightly packed)||1/4 cup||Or use Tamarind Paste – add in 1 tbsp increments as per taste.|
|Paste (To Grind)|
|Onion (diced)||1/4 cup|
|Tomatoes (diced)||1/2 cup|
|Coriander powder||2 tbsp|
|Chilli powder||2 tsp||Or use paprika for mild curry.|
|Turmeric Powder||1/2 tsp|
|Fresh Shredded Coconut||1/3 cup||Or use 1/3 cup coconut milk.|
|Cumin Seeds||1/2 tsp||Or use 1 tsp cumin powder|
|Oil||4 tbsp||I use coconut oil.|
|Onion (diced)||1 cup|
|Green chilli (split)||2||Omit for mild curry.|
|Fresh Ginger (grated)||1 tbsp|
|Salt||1 tsp||Add more if needed.|
|Tomato (diced)||1/4 cup|
|Fish (any cut will do)||2 lbs||I use Spanish mackerel cut into cutlets (Skin on and bone in)|
|Cilantro (chopped)||1/2 cup|
- Start the curry by soaking your tamarind in 1/2 cup hot water. If you plan well ahead, you can soak it in tap water for anywhere between 2 hrs to overnight.
- You can use any cut of fish. I usually get a whole mackerel, gut it, clean it, remove the head, tail and slice straight through the backbone (cutlet), bone in and skin on. The bones and skin add extra depth and flavor to the curry. If you want to, you can also add the head into the curry.
- Now grind all the ingredients under “To Grind” to a uniform paste adding 1/2 cup warm water. (If using coconut milk, use only 1/4 cup water)
- Heat a pot on medium heat and add oil.
- When oil is hot, add the onions.
- When the onions are translucent, add green chili and ginger. Keep stirring for 1 minute till the raw smell of ginger disappears. (Please don’t forget this step!)
- Add the tomatoes and salt.
- When tomatoes are mushy, add the ground paste. Use 3/4 cup of water to rinse any remaining paste from the blender. It is precious you see 🙂
- Let this boil for 3 mins to allow all the flavors to blend.
- Strain the Tamarind juice into the pot. Add 1 more cup of water to tamarind and then strain again to extract more of that tangy tamarind flavor.
- When the curry starts to boil, add the fish pieces one at a time (Why should it be one at a time? I don’t know. That is how I’ve seen everyone in India do it and it feels like I impart more love into the curry this way 🙂 )
- Half-cover the pot and cook on medium for 5 mins.
- Finish up the curry with a good 1/2 cup of cilantro.
- Uncover and cook on low for around 5 mins, till oil separates on top. (This indicates that the curry is fully cooked).
Serve the Fish curry with hot rice. I love it even as a side for dosa.
- Leftover fish curry can be stored at room temperature for up to 12 hrs. The tamarind in the curry acts as a preservative.
- If you decide to leave the curry out for more than 12 hrs, every 12 hrs bring the curry back to a boil and let it keep boiling for at least 10 mins. This reduced curry will taste amazing as well since the flavors will be in their prime and concentrated. I like to eat this curry with kanji (Cooked rice soaked overnight in water) – yummmmm!
- A historical dictionary of Indian Food, by K.T.Achaya