Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tangy Kerala Styled Fish Curry

While in Kerala in January of this year, I fell in love with all manner of Keralite food, especially the magic they work with seafood.

I've been on a quest to locate and obtain the crucial kadampuli, aka Gamboge, aka Cambodge, which is a fruit used as a souring agent. In the meantime, I MacGuyver'd this batch of fish curry, substituting regular tamarind/puli in lieu of the kadampuli (aka kodukkai puli in Tamil).

Ingredients/Prep Order:

Roughly 3 thumb sized knobs (heheh, I said "knobs") of tamarind, peeled
2 cups boiling water

(Soak tamarinds for 30 minutes in water. Set aside.)

Optional: Use comparable amount of Tamicon brand tamarind paste, roughly 2-3 tsp in 2 cups boiling water.

Paste made of:
6 cloves of garlic
1.5 inches of fresh young ginger
1 large shallot pureed w/enough oil to grind in a Cuisinart or mixie.

Tempering Tadka:
1 T. Coconut oil
1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds

1 Jalapeno (or 1/2 green bell pepper, if you're afraid of heat; More jalapeno can be used, according to preference), cut into strips
3 Sprigs curry leaf (roughly 10-12 medium sized leaves)
1-2 dashes Asafatoeida (aka Hing, aka Perungaya), powdered form

1 T. Coriander powder

1-1.5 lbs Snapper (I used Blue Snapper) filet, cut into 3-4 oz chunks

1/2 tsp. Turmeric powder

1. Deal with the tamarind or kadampuli first. After soaking for 1/2 hour, once the water is cool enough to plunge your hand into without fear of scalding yourself, manipulate and squeeze the fruits until the seeds pop out. Rub all flesh off seeds. Squeeze the fruit, removing the membrane and fiber, leaving behind the pulp in the water. Set aside.

2. Grind your paste.

3. Temper your tadka. First melt coconut oil over medium heat and add fenugreek seeds. Cook until they start to splutter but do not burn. Add jalapeno and curry leaves. Cook until the leaves start to splutter and sizzle. Add Asafatoeida powder & add the paste. Cook roughly 2-3 minutes until paste starts to turn a bit opaque-to-translucent BUT NOT BROWN! Add coriander powder. Keep stirring. Cook for a minute more.

4. Add puli pulp & water. Bring to a rolling boil. Add roughly 1-2 tsp of salt and if preferred, a few pinches of black pepper. Cook roughly 3-5 minutes at a good boil. Add turmeric powder. Stir well.

5. Add fish to boiling pot. Once pot comes back up to boil after fish has been added, reduce heat to simmer. Shake pot DO NOT STIR FISH--IT WILL BREAK UP! Put cover on pot. Cook over low heat for about 7 minutes. Turn heat off, keep lid on until ready to serve.

Tho to be honest, this is best if left in the pot overnight IN THE FRIDGE, and served the next day.

I served it w/steamed plain, south Indian Rosamatta rice, and a helping of aviyal, all garnished with some fresh cilantro.

Servings: Roughly 4-5

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