While the Kottayam and Kuttanadan girls dispute on the fieriness of their respective fish curries,I have only one recipe that the fisherman's wife makes :)
When the fishermen go for deep sea fishing they will have to anchor and spend a day or two in the sea to procure enough to make profits from their travel.To survive in the sea these types of spicy curries are taken along with them which can last without spoiling until they return.
The fisherman's wife -she likes to be addressed like that ! I call her chechi (sis) was with us since her late teens and often made this curry.She is an expert in cooking non vegetarian dishes ( I will be posting some of her recipes soon). An amazing quality of her's which impressed us time and again is she never had issues with guests coming over on short notice she would put a spread of simple dishes and a beautiful smile and the guests would go ga gaa over the taste.
My daughty is a meen curry person .She does a decent job of separating fish bones from flesh all by herself since very young..Even while she struggles with the heat she doesn't fail to say," ahha I am loving it !" Now that's the reward I get for all the pain of packing earthenware and bringing it half the globe even though I am half as good as chechi.
I must tell you that there are so many things that contribute to the perfect curry like earthenware,coconut oil etc ...More than the frozen fillets the whole fresh fish with skin ,cut into pieces only tastes good in such preparation . The oils from the skin add to the tastes and also the fish head (meen talla) tastes best in this .
IngredientsFish - (King fish /Neimeen,Choora/Tuna, Pomfret / Avoli )I have used
Pompano here.Use any fleshy fish u like.around 10 -12 pieces.Preferably with cleaned fish head.
Ginger- 1 inch pieces chopped
Garlic - 4 -5 flakes chopped
Green chili - 2
Small onion- 5-6 sliced
Cambodge / Kudampuli - 4 (soaked in 1/2 glass warm water)
Red chili powder - 1 tsp +1 tsp to marinate
Kashmiri chili powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp+1/4 tsp to marinate
Fenugreek powder- 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tsp (optional)
Salt- to taste
Mustard- 1/2 tsp
Lemonjuice / vinegar-1 tbsp
Coconut oil- Few tsps
While buying fish try to get it cleaned by the monger or else u will have to remove the scales,fins,tail,gills,teeth and belly parts.I admit the cleaning efficiency comes only with practice one cannot clean fish all of a sudden!!:)
1.Marinate the clean fish pieces in chili powder turmeric powder salt and lime juice/vinegar for half an hr to 45 mts.
2.In a small bowl put chili powder,turmeric powder,coriander powder,fenugreek powder and lil water (may be 2 to 3 tbsps) to make it a paste.DO NOT OMIT THIS STEP ( directly adding powders to oil- it will alter the color and get burnt easily)
3.Heat the earthenware pour coconut oil swirl the pot when oil is hot enough add mustard when it crackles add ginger when it slightly yellows add garlic ,green chili ,curry leaves and small onion , saute till onions are golden brown reduce flame and add the paste saute and wait until the powders slightly cook in the oil and oil separates from the sides.
4.Add the kudampuli and the soaked water and 1/2 glass more water so that the fish will be almost immersed.Bring this to boil now reduce heat add fish pieces cover it and let it simmer on low heat for 20-25 mts till the pieces are well cooked and the gravy is reduced.
Do not disturb the fish pieces with ladle while cooking as the pieces might break.Ensure the fish curry doesn't get burnt at the bottom by slowly moving the earthenware from side to side.Every few minutes take the lid out and throw the water vapor collected on it .She says vendavellam spoils the curry and taste.
Use this curry the next day for enhanced taste.Leave it at room temperature, do not have to refrigerate.
Serve it along with Kappa puzhuku ,some moru curry,or not so spicy curry to pour on top of the rice,thoran and red rice..
Kappa and any meen curry served to me or better my whole family is a sure short way of seeing us polishing our plates on any given day :))
- If u live in hotter climates then heat the curry once or twice everyday until it is over and leave out the coriander powder.Though it adds thickness to the curry it aids in faster spoiling too.If u find the curry completely dried up and u need some gravy add very little water and boil along with fish it in the same pot.
- U might see a film of oil floating on top of the curry if the fish used has lot of oil..
- While using whole fish with skin ( before cutting into pieces) after removing fish scales it is rubbed against a stone surface to scrape off some of the silver color on the fish.If small fish is used then she would put rock salt and move the fish in circular motion several times inside the earthenware itself and wash off .