August 03, 2009

Central Kerala Red Fish Curry...



For this post, I don't want to dwell on the house sale.. the status quo on that is still the same. It's been hot and humid here the whole of last two weeks.. hey wait, isn't that the weather in Kerala? Maybe the weather allocation got switched.. upside, I don't have to water my flowers, they are blooming like never before. Beautiful!! Downside.. my veggie garden is neglected and is attacked by weeds which are growing faster than the veggies. I didn't put down a weed fabric when I set the garden out and regretting it now. We did get some red delicious tomatoes and a gigantic cabbage was harvested this week.. the plant came from my kid's school as a competition to see who will grow the biggest cabbage. We just planted it and fed it and it grew big..


I have a bunch of posts to get thru but can't seem to find the time. This one is a post I started a year ago..:)it's only now that I got thru to it. The photo was taken awhile ago and it's just coincidence that I am on fishy posts. Every body around us is either on vacation or has family visiting and last year this time, we were in B'lore visiting our old friends.

That started off a train of reminiscence ...reaching B'lore in the early morning after a long but fun train journey from Calicut,(any train ride is fun for me as here in US, all journeys are by long back breaking, gas guzzling car rides or by flights as pointed out by another friend) we got picked up by our close friend Peedus and there started a non-stop session of jabbering and stories. SR, Peedus's better half was waiting at home to continue the stories. I could tell you a lot about them but I don't want to go into any personal details here. SR has a lot of varied interests ..flower arrangements, interior design, arch, photo blogging...she keeps up with her friends and classmates relentlessly thru wonderful photos and its stories ..........and to our delight, we found out that she is an ardent cook too. Not just cooking, which a lot of people may like, but we could obsess about the food and its merits among other things.

A clay pot simmering with ample shallots redolent in ample coconut oil.. That's the one image that is there still in my mind after one year...ah..(the luxury of having a ton of shallots all cleaned and chopped and ready.) I didn't know which curry the claypot was headed to, but was happy just to see the shallots.

It was a pleasure to see SR catching up on news with me...being in B'lore they are in touch with a lot of our college friends and at any time, it would take days just to get updates on all of them. She was cooking alongside, all the while adding some chili powder, manning another flame with erissery on it, requesting her girl Friday for the next chopped items...doing ten things at the same time.

I am always surprised when I see someone of our generation who loves to cook and feed. Especially considering that she had just fed us a full breakfast, she was just getting down to the lunch prep pronto. Old Soul SR.:)And absolutely yummy food. DH just sat and ate till he couldn't move. It's a wonder how much we can eat while on vacation. I bet a lot of her classmates and common friends who have stopped by her house on summer days will agree with me.

Anyway, to get back to the fish curry, it's the central Kerala kodampuli kind which is my favorite curry with King Fish. The recipe is from her friend, who is from Kottayam and is really amazing. My mom never used to make this curry but my M-I-L does and we just grew into it over time. King Fish being the big fat meaty fish, doesn't absorb flavors easily and resists most simple preparations. It does well with deep flavors, spices and marinades. The Kodam Puli is the best and strongest adversary it has faced. During their time together, the fish absorbs all of the puli's smoky flavor and power and thereby gets its tangy, spicy taste.

You will need:
Fish pieces-5
Kodum Puli-2 piece
Shallots-about 20, sliced finely
Ginger Garlic Paste-1 1/2 tbsp(fresh paste)
Red Hot Chili Powder- 2 tsp( this is spicy)
Kashmir Red chili powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric-1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves- 2-3 sprigs.
Oil (coconut oil is preferred)

Soak the souring agent, kudam puli in half cup warm water. Blend half the raw shallots and 1/2 tsp of the ginger garlic paste along with the red chili powder and turmeric to a fine paste. Don't add water while blending or add just a tablespoon of water. Just enough to get it to a paste. In the olden days, I am sure this was done on the ammi/mortar and pestle, so water was added drop by drop.

Heat oil (about 3 tbsp)in a meen chatti or pan and add half the shallots and curry leaves to the pan. When the shallots wilt, add the ginger garlic paste and saute on medium heat. Add the blended paste to the pan and cook it on medium heat or low heat (depending on your stove) till all the water is evaporated and the paste gives out oil..about 10 minutes.

This step should be done with care without burning the paste. If there is not enough oil for the paste to cook, add a bit more. If the paste doesn't get cooked, the fish curry will taste too spicy with raw red chili taste..

When the paste is moving as one mass, add 1 cup water and just the kudam puli. Reserve the water it was soaked in to be added if you need more sourness. Add salt and taste. When the paste and the water dissolve and come to a boil, add the fish pieces one by one. Cover the fish with the liquid and let it cook covered for about 15 minutes. I just let it simmer on low heat after the first boil, on the back burner.
As you open, the oil should have risen to the top and the color should be a deep red. Taste the curry and adjust as needed. Take out the souring agent if you don't like it too sour later.
Serve with puttu, idaippam, appam or porotta. The curry definitely taste better after a couple of hours and even better the next day with Puttu. The more the fish sits in it, the better the flavors meld and get imbibed.

26 comments:

My Experiments with Cooking said...

I am amazed at how you can cook so many fish reicpes. I envy you. It looks yumm!

Rachel said...

Just the way I make it..My all time comfort food is fish curry, rice and moru!The moe puli the more better it is!

Faiza Ali said...

oh my ! The fish curry looks awesome dear. Love Kerala fish curry, wish I can it like yours...

Superchef said...

that looks soo awesome that im thinking of converting to a fish-eating vegetarian...lol!!

Nags said...

kerala fish curry, here i come :D i am going home very soon :)

Bharathy said...

OH MY MY!!...
I miss home,now :(!!

Amma too makes more or less the same way!..one of my favourites..
Yeah, it's really nice to see you coming up with the Nadan/Very Indian recipes lately! :)
Keep Posting, girl!..You Rock!

Sig said...

The red fish curry, my favorite! :)
Oh and "dwell on the house sale" - pun intended? :)

mathew said...

hey this is exactly how i make fish curry..though i dont use as many shallots...and i add some fenugreek too..;-)

i usually use salmon for making this style..though it doesnot come close to the neymeen we have back home...

As a kottayamkaran i swear this is a curry which is like the sacred test for all achayathi's in that part of the state for their culinary skills!!;-D

Mallugirl said...

My Exp.. NAh.. this curry's photo is old.:) I bet you make fish more often..

Rachel, good to hear u make the curry the same way.. i too liek the puli.. i eat up all the kodam puli. dunno if thats good for me though!

FAiza, its' not too difficult.. need good fish though. It took me a long time to figure out how to make it correctly and even now i some times make it too spicy or sour.. photos are deceiving.

Superchef, were u a fishitarian at any time?

Nag, kushumbu thonnunnu. missing kerala now!!have fun though and eat an extra bowl for me.

Bharathy, followed ur sis here, eh?
Ur photo of the fish curry w/ coconut still haunts me..it was way better, me thinks.

Sig, pun intended.. dwelling is turned into a hot house now..literally and figuratively.:)

Mathew, I too love the fenugreek in the fish curries, tho this recipe i wrote as is.. no additons from my side. So u must be an expert in this curry.. is this going to be the achayathi litmus test curry when u get married?

Miri said...

Wow, I love the tamarind based fish curries made down south - the flavours come together so much better on the next day isnt it? This one looks amazing...

Shilpa said...

I made this curry today.. I was lazy to grind coconuts but wanted a thicker gravy than the mulakittathu. The shallot-chilly paste definitely made the gravy a lot thicker than I could have imagined!! It tastes great. Thanks for the simple recipe :)

Mandira said...

it sounds so delicious, and I love posts started a while back.. it brings in so many memories! I have to try this soon :)

vivari said...

hi
your pics is really good. will try the curry as we love fish
vivari

Sunitha said...

hi friend
i've gone through so many blogs. but ur blog is very homely and also u din change the looks.i am back after a lon vaccation and everybodys blog looks unfamiler but urs remain the same. fish curry looks good.

Parita said...

Oh my that looks quite spicy!

lan said...

an awesome picture shaheen. the shape of the piece perfects the feel. your readers are all wishing for that homesale to happen soon for your sake.. i wanted comment about kolhapure and forgot. not the recipe but the name. that flooded the memories literally because of our collective worries of a favorite kolhapure chapal getting ruined if one wears it during the rainy season:-)

Vijitha Shyam said...

oh! brillaint inviting n temptin meen kari. Looks so good dearie.

s said...

lovely!!!

Linda said...

Fish curry looks wonderful S! Do you get king fish here anywhere? Fresh or frozen? I could try with salmon too as suggested by Matthew.

I'm so glad to hear you got some ripe tomatoes. Mine are just barely starting to ripen -- one red and one yellow. If this heat holds I might get more.

Shifa Firoz said...

all ur fish recipes are making me drool.. :) i'll try this one soon.

Geeta said...

This looks absolutely delicious.

Jaya said...

these looks so delicious, we get king fish steaks here , may be I would try making it ..what if I dont find the souring agent you used in this curry...and also did you first fried the fish pieces before adding to the gravy ..do let me know..
hugs and smiles

Puspha said...

Mallu girl, I'm a great fan of fish curry. Ur curry looks fab!!! Good job.

crispus said...

Dear Mallu gal, am making ur fab fish curry right now..ur my fish guru online :)..but as im making this...where do we add the kashmiri chilli pow? in the 'arappu'? im guessing it is along with the red chili powder and gonna make it as such...i have a gut feeling this curry is gonna be a winner with my 'achayab'! :))
Great post!

mallugirl said...

crispus, the kashmiri chili pwder is along with the red chili powder.. just to reduce the spice level and yet get the heart stopping color.:)) let me know if there were any tweakings needed.

Meena said...

Why is this recipe missing fenugreek which is so integral to all mallu meen curry?