Ever since I went for a team outing last week to a crab-house, I started having a craving for home-made fish curry. Its been months since I've made fish at home. Fish is the only sea-food I like to cook at home, though several times I've thought about cooking spicy crab curries. I do have some awesome recipes for crab curries, but haven't cooked so far.
Being a tamilian, I've enjoyed many fish varieties while growing up. Fish is never a scarcity in our place as Tamilnadu is a coastal state. Sea-food is flavored with different ingredients in different parts of India. Tamilian cooking uses Tamarind, turmeric and curry leaves for flavoring , while on the western coast of malabar, sea-food is flavored using Coconut and Curry leaves whereas Goan cooking uses Coconut, Chillies and Vinegar. Some of tamilian fish curries use coconuts, while most of them do not.
This is a wonderful dish that my mom makes. I bought this dry fish from an Indian store in California when I visited my sister a few months before. This is the same variety that we get in India. It has an extra-ordinary flavor. Since I had the craving for fish curry from last week, I wanted to cook it as soon as possible. I do love the dry-fish curry as much as a fresh fish curry. I quickly called up my mom to double-check on the recipe and cooked it right away. It came out awesome as usual, and my kitchen smells divine now :-)
I usually make it extra spicy to compensate the "fishy" smell, but you can vary the spices to your choice.
- Any dried fish - 8-10 pieces (I used Seer fish)
- Pearl Onions/Shallots - 6
- Garlic - 4 cloves
- Curry leaves - 10
- Tamarind paste - 2 tbsp
- Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
- Fennel seeds powder - 1 tsp (optional)
- Mustard & Cumin seeds, Fennel seeds - 1 tsp each
- Coconut paste - 1 tbsp
- Kuzhambu Powder - 2 tbsp (I use the home-made kuzhambu powder, if not use can substitue with 2 tsps chilli powder, 2 tsps corriander powder & 1 tsp cumin powder. I've heard that sambar powder also works well, but I've never tried it so far in fish curries)
- Soak the dry-fish in steaming hot water for 5 mins, remove and set aside.
- In a pan, mix the tamarind paste, kuzhambu powder, turmeric powder and salt in 3 cups of water and boil. Simmer for 10-15 mins or until the raw smell goes.
- Meanwhile crush the shallots & garlic or run them for a few seconds in a food processor (shouldn't be a paste).
- Add this to the boiling mixture and boil for 5 mins. The whole mixture should start to thicken up slightly.
- Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a separate pan (I use gingely oil/sesame oil for added flavor) and season with mustard, fennel and cumin seeds. Add the curry leaves and fry for a few seconds. Add this to the boiling mixture along with some fennel powder (optional) and mix well.
- Then add the coconut paste and dry fish - cover and boil it for 6-8 mins on medium heat until the dry-fish is soft and juicy.
You can add water as and when needed depending on the consistency.
Serve with hot plain rice.