Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fish Curry - Chettinad Style..

Chettinad recipes are my favorites as many of you. My perception to Chettinad Cuisine has changed a lot in the last several years. Until I was in India, though I used to hear a lot about Chettinad cuisine and its specialities, I had no idea how to distinguish a Chettinad dish with other dishes, especially Non-vegetarian items. I hardly recall any restaurants specializing just in Chettinad Cuisine when I grew up. To me, all chicken curries seemed to be the same while dining in restaurants in India. But after coming here to the US, its overwhelming to come across so many variations from the regular dishes that I grew up with, including Chettinad dishes. The more I tried and tested some of the chettinad delicacies in my kitchen, the more I started appreciating the taste and also could relate to the dishes that I enjoyed back home. I absolutely love the fun of learning and enjoying the meals from different regions, and I totally agree and believe that Chettinad dishes are one of the most spicy and aromatic dishes in Indian cuisine. One needs to experience the unique addition of different spices and the elaborate preparation method to appreciate the cuisine.

This is the first time I'm trying Chettinad recipe with fish - Thanks to a friend who requested this recipe. Chettinad fish curry is something new to me. Don't know why, but somehow I've never tried Fish curry in the Chettinad style. Mom's fish curry is the only one I know of, which is pretty straightforward. When I got this request from my friend, I became anxious to try it with a spin of chettinad flavors, and made it at once. I found this recipe from my old collection - god knows when I printed it and where I printed it from. Since this is the first time I'm trying it, I decided to make it with extra attention and give some special touches here and there. It came out exceptionally flavorful and actually tasted excellent the next day.

Notes: I usually like to make fish curry a little extra spicy, and I have given my measurements. You can adjust according to your taste.
Also, I prefer using Laxmi brand tamarind paste which is more natural and light brown in color, instead of Tamicon, the dark colored one. If you use Tamicon, you can reduce the qty to half of what I've given below).
  • Pomphret - 2 big (yields about 8 medium size pieces. You can use any fish of your choice, but it tasted great with Pomphret)
  • Onion - 1 medium
  • Tomato - 1 medium
  • Garlic - 5 cloves
  • Ginger - 2 inches
  • G.Chillies - 2 small
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
  • Tamarind Paste - 3 tbsp (mix it with 3 cups of water)
  • Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fennel Seeds - 1 tsp
  • Curry Leaves - a few
  • Corriander leaves - 1/2 cup (chopped)
For the Paste:
  • Peppercorn - 1 tsp
  • Red Chillies - 2
  • Fennel Seeds - 1 tsp
  • Corriander seeds - 2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Thuvar Dal - 1 tsp
  • Shredded Coconut - 2 tbsp
  • Cut the fish, clean it thoroughly with running water. Rub some salt over the fish pieces and wash it one more time. Set aside.
  • Make the ginger, garlic and g.chillies to a paste. Set aside.
  • Roast the ingredients for the paste with 1 tsp oil (add red chillies first, then spices and then add the coconut at the end) , cool and make them to a fine paste by adding little water. Set aside.
  • Heat oil (add a little extra oil), season with mustard seeds and fennel seeds.
  • Add the ginger/garlic/g.chillies paste and fry for a min.
  • Add onions and curry leaves, fry for a few mins until onions are nicely fried.
  • Add tomatoes, chilli powder and turmeric and fry for a few mins, until the tomatoes lose shape and the spices are well blended.
  • Now add the spice paste and fry for a few mins. Cover and leave it in low heat for 5 mins.
  • Remove the lid, add salt and tamarind juice and mix well. If required, you can add some extra water.
  • Bring to a boil and then simmer in low heat for about 15 mins. The gravy should be thickened a bit.
  • Finally add the fish pieces and boil for 5 mins.
  • Garnish with corriander leaves.
  • Switch off the heat, leave the pan covered on the stove for about an hour before serving. This way the fish flavor gets into the gravy and tastes better.
Enjoy with steaming hot white rice!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hariyali Paneer and a Hundred down!

Although I have slowed down in my posts, I've been aware in the back of my mind that my 100th post is right around the corner. Ever since I posted my previous one, I was in the urge to post my next one right away to celebrate my 100th post. But I've just not been able to get to my blog. My office work, MBA Classes and house-hold routine is keeping me totally occupied. My late night hours nowadays are taken over by my MBA assignments. I'd been also thinking to celebrate this achievement by making a sweet or a cake, but finally decided to just post one of the recipes sitting in my drafts for quite some time.

After 100 posts, I'm pretty sure that there's still a lot of room for improving my blog, but I should also say thats its been a blast and a great ride so far! Every post has given me an opportunity to learn and improve upon something. When I started this blog, I surely didn't expect I will be touching this magic number 100, ever! Thanks to everyone who have sent a comment, complaint, or correction. Keep them coming as I continue with my next 100 posts!

I think we all agree that adding fresh herbs is a quick way to transform an ordinary dish into an extraordinary dish. This is a recipe that I learned recently with fresh corriander and mint leaves. Well, I've already tasted this dish quite a few times, but I learned the recipe just recently. Corriander and Mint combo is one of the most flavorful combos in Indian cooking. I believe wherever this combo happens, the dish is a hit for sure - It can be in Briyani, Chutneys or Chettinad cuisine. When I first happened to taste this paneer dish in a restaurant, I wondered how I missed this beautiful combo with Paneer! I fell for that minty flavor right away. Here is my version of Hariyali Paneer - modified a bit according to my taste.

  • Paneer cubes - 25 (small sized)
  • Capsicum - 1
  • Corriander leaves - 1 cup (chopped)
  • Mint leaves - 5 or 6
  • Onion - 1 medium
  • Ginger - 1 inch
  • Garlic - 3 cloves
  • G.chillies - 5 (small)
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch
  • Cloves - 3
  • Cardamom - 1
  • Cashews - 5 numbers
  • Kasoori Methi (Crushed) - 1 tsp
  • Cream - 3 tbsps
  • Blend these to a paste - 1/2 onion (chopped), ginger, garlic, g.chillies, corriander leaves, mint leaves, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, cashews. Just add little water to make it to a semi-solid paste.
  • Chop the capsicum to 1 inch cubes.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add the remaining 1/2 onions (chopped) and fry for 2 mins.
  • Add the chopped capsicum and fry for 2 more mins.
  • Add the paste and 2 tbsps of water fry in medium heat for 4 to 5 mins. The raw smell of corriander and mint should not go away. I cover it for 3 mins and then fry for the last 2 mins.
  • Add salt, 1 cup water and let the mixture boil until it reaches almost a thick consistency.
  • Add Kasoori Methi and then Paneer cubes - mix them together and boil for 2 more mins.
  • Finally add cream and stir together. If you want to lighten the spice level, you can add extra cream.
  • Remove from heat and leave it for 30 mins before serving.
Goes best with Naan!