Keralan fish curry
By Gizzi Erskine
I reworked this dish as part of an experiment which I did with Rooted Spices founders, Rachel and Clara. We cooked up two different batches of the fish curry: one using standard jars of spices and another using their single origin spices. The difference between the two was amazing. When made with quality ingredients a Keralan fish curry is an outstanding dish which channels such authentic South Indian flavours. It’s fragrant, healthy and has quickly crept into my everyday cooking repertoire.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
2 + 4tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
1tbsp mustard seeds
2tsp cumin seeds
1tsp Daal blend
1tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
¼ tsp Indian cayenne pepper
Handful of fresh curry leaves
3 green chillies (kept whole)
400ml tin of coconut milk
300ml fish (or chicken/vegetable) stock
2tbsp tamarind juice (made from rehydrating dried tamarind)
4 fillets of fish on the bone (hake, snapper, kingfish)
1 lime, zested and juiced
Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper, to season
Heat 2tbsp of oil in a large wok or saucepan. Add the onions and cook them on a gentle heat for 10-12 minutes, until they have softenend and started to turn translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, and then stir for a minute until they are aromatic. Next, add the tomatoes and then continue cooking on a low heat for a further 30-45 minutes until everything has mulched down.
Meanwhile, put the remaining 4btsp of oil into a separate pan. Add all the spices, and ‘temper’ them by bringing the oil up to the heat until the mustard seeds start to crackle. Take the pan off the heat straight away, strip the curry leaves off the stalk and add them to the spices, swirling them in the spiced oil – and then add it all to the onion-tomato mixture.
Put the green chillies into a pan, to infuse and then cover with coconut milk, fish stock and tamarind juice. Bring to a simmer and then place the fish steaks into the poaching liquid. Cook for 4-5 minutes, gently turn, and then cook for another 4 minutes. Season the sauce with lime (zest and juice), salt and pepper, garnish with fresh coriander and serve with lemon rice.
[FOR LEMON RICE: Put 240g of basmati rice in a pan with 1 sliced lemon, a pinch of saffron, 1tsp Rooted Spices’ Nigella seeds and 4 curry leaves. Cover with 1cm of cold water, pop on the lid and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes, or until almost all the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and leave to steam with the lid on for 10 minutes before serving.]