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.)
Turmeric-1/2 tsp
Tamarind Extract- 1tbsp(Laxmi Natural Tamarind Concentrate.)
Mustard-1/2 tsp(optional)
Fenugreek-1 tsp
Coconut oil-2 tbsp
Curry leaves
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.


Parita said...

The curry looks so spicy! lovely color! i know its difficult when you move, i always feel like I am moving from one place to another and miss the feeling of being at "home"...hopefully u'll get a good deal, wish u luck:)

Cilantro said...

Curry looks spicy and delicious.
I visualize my childhood home as `Home` too.
Now that we bought our first home here and have got attached to it ever since, although I know one day we will move back to our homeland. Moving is pain but a new place brings new opportunities and better avenues. Goodluck!!!

Nags said...

my chechi's fave :)

Kalai said...

I know what you mean about the whole house thing being frustrating! Really hope that things get settled soon for you, dear. Fish curry looks awesome! I don't blame you for giving in and making it! :)

Anonymous said...

Well said Shaheen.Its difficult to love another house when we are in one..The comforts we have are sure to be compared..But i think once we make up mind,we will start loving that too..anyway,have a meaningful search..
Mathi looks tempting with its color.Just remembered Ummi Abdulla since I have one of her recipes with me..

My Experiments with Cooking said...

We always skip the idea of moving for the fear of it(We are two lazy working women though!)That curry is colorful and definitely should be flavorful.

Mallugirl said...

Parita,Thanks!, every bit of encouragement is valuable..its like pulling roots out.:(
the color is from the tomatoes.:))

cilantro,well said.. better avenues in the horizon does make it look better.

nags.. i know.. i still remember salivating over that post.by the away look at the similarity between parita's and ur photo.

Anh said...

I admit I do not always know what to do with sardines. You have inspired me. Thank you!

Srivalli said...

oh shaheen...thats pretty bad....I can imagine how hard it must be...am sure things will surely get better...

btw that curry looks very good...

Sreevidya said...

It's realy teasty

Sakshi said...

I can tell you one thing if I had come along looking to buy ur house and sniffed the mathi perfume will buy it for sure even without looking around the house. Anything that can give me a piece of Kerala will go for it...but making husband understand would take up some crocodile tears and blah blah..

U keep making me go crazy over all ur calicut recipes....I feel like u r the only bond I share of calicut...sigh!!

Sig said...

Mathi curry, oh my favoritest dish in the whole wide world! :D Good luck with the house hunting and the selling... I know, second homes are always tough, but the good thing is you know exactly what you want and don't want in a house, unlike the first time. At least it was that way for us :)

mathew said...

ente karthavei..alpum kappayum koode undaayirunnenkil!!;-)

btw could you tell me the malayalam name for Salmon..I cooked the fish and tasted awesome in our puli itta meen curry style..have not been able to identify the naadan name for that fish..

Mallugirl said...

hi, hi, mathew.. we did have it with kappa!! and the only name i could fins was "KAALAA"!!!@@!$#@!$ don't know if that is right. yeah, salmon tastes good with kodam puli for me...if u make it central kerala style.

Anita said...

Good luck with the sale... Why, again, are you moving?
Good you cooked some home food - it's not called comfort food for nothing! :)

Linda said...

Dear Shaheen,

Your spiciest curries are always so appealing to me!

If you worry about the aroma lingering, try this -- a few black cardamoms, cin stick and cloves toasting over low heat on the stove is enough to bring prospective buyers (or anyone, for that matter) dashing into the kitchen to see what smells so GOOD :)

Wishing you best of luck with the move -- the birds will sing in the new home too :)

Mallugirl said...

mY EXPERIMENTS.. fear of moving is enough to deter people from buying a house!! i know its inertia, but now that i started it, want to see it thru.

Anh, this curry is spicy and do let me know if u did try it.

srivalli, things are just slow moving..so can't really plan anything for summer.. that's the only hassle. but with all ur thots, i am sure something will work out.

sakshi..why don't u move to jersey and buy this house?:))

sig, u did hit the nail on the head. good to know that there is a silver lining ahead. did u have to go thru all this too?

Mandira said...

We just moved to a new house Shaheen, so I know what you mean by the endless search! Good luck with the sale and hope you find something wonderful soon :)
The fish curry looks nice and fiery. Lovely!

ashaan said...

Hope you get through your home adventures pretty soon and fine. That's quite a tough phase!

Your mathi-curry looks so yum that I am so tempted to get some. Need some kappa to go with this.

Kay said...

I love mathi too!! :) Goodluck with your move, shaheen!

Bong Mom said...

I have never tried a sardine. Where do you get the, I mean not the canned ones, Asian or Am ?

Anonymous said...

Hi..Combine Apple Cider, Cinnamon Sticks and Cloves in a large pot with Apple cider and bring to a boil. Or you could even bake some cookies & leave them for the prospective buyers. The aromas fills the house.

Jisha said...

Wow, these sardines look so good... Back home in Kottayam, my mom used to make Sardines in Coconut, Steamed Sardines and so on.. But I have never been able to try sardines in US..

Shifa Firoz said...

Shaheen.... im droooooling!!! we dont get mathi here so i eat a lot whn im in clt!! we are just bk from a short clt vaccation and the kunchanmathi is still haunting me!