July 09, 2009
Mathi Mulakittathu / Moliyar/ Sardines in Spicy Curry...
The house sale has become just another factor in the list of daily chores and activities. Even my kids are pitching in the daily clean up now.:)
"The blushing bride" as one of my blogger friends called the house, is wilting under all the attention or the lack of it. We had one open house last week and nearly went a little berserk getting it ready. Still not much response. The house prices are falling so much that bigger houses than ours are encroaching on our price zone, while the buyers are just shopping around still. The daily headlines of unemployment and housing market in a down spin doesn't help either. But let's see, we still have to wait and bide our time.
We are also on the other end, like most of my blogger friends, looking for a house and I know how difficult it is to like a house. When we were living in an apartment, it was easy to go around seeing houses and visualize ourselves in it, since they were almost always bigger than the apartment. The second home is not so easy. Now when we do our round of house viewing, can't visualize it as where we want to live in and at the end of the day, just want to come back "home". We get back home, stretch our feet in the backyard patio, peruse the endless grass and hear the twitters (the original bird sounds, not the internet chatter) around, wave to the rabbit, sip a cup of tea and think aloud, "why again are we moving?"
Makes you wonder what is it that we call "home". It's bricks and mortar, alright, but there must be something primeval about it that we get so attached to it. I have lived in a lot of houses over the years yet when I dream, there is only house from my childhood that comes regularly in my dreams as Representative of "my home". As children, we probably get fixated on the house that we lived in the longest with our family. Now as adults with our own families, each house that we live in represents a phase of life..newly married, FOB, pre-kid, post kid...
Anyway, in a rebel state of mind, I didn't buy an induction stove, but started cooking some fish curries to "perfume" the house..just kidding...couldn't stay away from some spicy curry for too long..... just have to do a thorough airing and cleaning after each cooking though. Vinegar and a wet towel help a lot.
So here is a really easy Mathi Curry. When I went to my regular fish market this time, I had to regretfully decline the King Fish head..pheeeuu!!Couldn't afford to cook that as that smell will linger on like a bad memory. But they had these Sardines, so good looking that I couldn't resist it. Thinking of the heaped plates full of fried sardines, from last summer back in Calicut, I chose 3 sardines and came home smug to find my DH laughing at me..u bought just 3 sardines? Well, one for me and two for you... And I decided to make the curry as the leftover fry smell is another torture.
The recipe is the way my mom makes it but she couldn't give me numbers. Ummi Abdullah's book had a similar recipe so I used that to come up with the final recipe. There are only slight differences in the recipes such as we don't really use mustard and my mom almost never fries the shallots. But I like it this way.
You Will Need:
Sardines-3 or 4
Shallots-6 sliced finely
Green Chilies-2 slit vertically
Garlic- 3 big cloves crushed well.
Tomato-1 small one
Red Chili Powder- 2 tsp(substitute with Kashmiri chili powder if you don't like the spice level.)
Tamarind Extract- 1tbsp(Laxmi Natural Tamarind Concentrate.)
Coconut oil-2 tbsp
salt to taste
Use a pan or clay pot. Some say the high heat damages the clay pot so you could do the spluttering of mustard in a pan and add to the clay pot.
Heat the oil in a pan/ meen chatti( clay pot) and add the mustard seeds.
Cover and reduce heat and let them splutter. Open and add the fenugreek, onions,green chilies and garlic. Fry till the onions are transparent and starting to brown at the edges. Add the tomatoes and saute for just a minute. Mix the chili powder, turmeric powder with 1 tbsp water and add to the pan.
Fry for a minute or so and then add the tamarind extract. This extract that I use has the natural taste and the light brown color of real tamarind. If you are using whole tamarind, soak a small ball in half cup warm water and extract the juice by squishing the tamarind into the water and straining it.
Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup water if there is no liquid left in the pan and let it come to a boil. Adjust the sourness and salt and then add the fish and the curry leaves. Cover, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 7 to 10minutes. Keep it covered for some more time. The fish will take time to imbibe the flavors and tastes better definitely the next day or later in the evening.