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!


Divya Vikram said...

I remember having chettinad fish curry in a restaurant. Sounds appetizing!

Sharmilee! :) said...

Wow looks so so tempting, hot rice+fish gravy is a treat for this weather!

Tina said...

Wow delicious and mouthwatering fish curryyyyyy......

Soma Pradhan said...

Nice yummy fish curry..

Priya said...

Mouthwatering fish curry, i love any dish in chettinad style, such a flavourful curry.

Sailaja Damodaran said...

Love the ground masala.yummy

Anu said...

Looks delicious... Tempting dear...

Cham said...

I always followed my mom's recipe for seafood! But for chettinadu- I follow Solai true chettinad- her recipe is full proof!
Gal I want to taste ur curry now :)

Mona said...

Haven't had a fish curry since a while, and this really looks tempting!

Sujatha said...

You are right Cham, I too follow Solai aachi's recipes for authentic chettinad recipes. All her recipes are truely delicious! This recipe is a little different from hers and I wanted to try it this way for a change this time :)

Superchef said...

looks nice n spicy n delicious!

Gita said...

I too love this curry...looks divine!

notyet100 said...

fish curry looks yummy,..;-)

sanjeevp said...

Thanks for the recipe Sujatha.

Sujatha said...

You are welcome, Sanjeev. If you happen to try it, let me know how it was!

Malar Gandhi said...

No confusion at all for me...something that is extra hot and when I go for second serving its 'Chettinad Cuisine', he he...just kidding:)

Lovly Fish curry, simply irresistable...the spices gone in, makes one' crave for it, right now:)

sanjeevp said...

Hi Sujatha, Chettinad Fish (Cat fish) curry came out excellent. I altered it with some cashew and coconut paste (as I had put extra tamarind paste). Tasted awesome after 2 days. One of my cousins came for dinner and commented that he hadn't eaten such authentic Chettinad fish curry in a long time and suggested I open a Chettinad restaurant :-) . I told him that all the credit goes to u'r blog. Thanks again.

Sujatha said...

Great Sanjeev! I'm glad it worked out well at the end.. Your cousin is right, you should start a chettinad restaurant :)

Happy New Year..

TooLoose said...

This looks fantastic! I'm in the USA and don't know that fish. Can you name some other similar types of fish? Is it a firm-flesh fish?

Also, could you indicate the amount of fish in grams or ounces?

I can't wait to try this one.

TooLoose said...

I can't tell if my last comment was posted.

I want to try this recipe. What other fish can be used? I am unfamiliar with this fish. Is it firm? And please indicate a guess on the quantity of fish in grams or ounces.


Sujatha said...

Pomphret is an Indian fish that we get in international groceries here. But, you can use Catfish or Salmon instead of Pomphret. My friends have tried these two fish and they liked it. As long as the fish is firm, you should be fine. I'm not sure about the measurements in ounces, but would say approximately 2 lbs of fish.

Hope this helps, good luck!

SamBar & Spicy said...

Hi Sujatha. I used to be "tooloose" but now I am this new identity dedicated to wonderful Indian food. Thank you for responding so rapidly!

I couldn't wait for your response and decided to go ahead anyway with this recipe, so I picked up some salmon, which I see now was a good move. And all I can say is that this is an excellent, absolutely delicious recipe! It took me a while to get everything ready, but wow, was it worth it!

I'm sold on your recipes and am cooking up some toor dal right now so I can make the apple dal, which sounds delicious too.

thank you so much.

Sujatha said...

Hi SamBar&Spicy (a very different name!),

Thanks for your encouraging words, and I'm glad it came out well! I am now curious to try this recipe with catfish or salmon.

Good luck with the apple dal!

SamBar & Spicy said...

Thank you so much. I won't be pestering you with question after question. I mean, after I ask you this one question.

I have a cookbook for S.Indian cooking, "Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India" by Chandra Padmanabhan. It is filled with the most delicious food. As my name implies, I love spicy sambars...and rasams, too. And kootus, and can't leave out poriyals. Today I will be ordering one more S. Indian cookbook, "Samayal" by Viji Varadarajan. It is filled with recipes. I figure, with these two books and your blog, I should be one content soul.

Here is my question: It's about those spice pastes used in much of this cooking. How do you grind the spices? I have tried with a motor/pestle and I couldn't get the seeds ground up to my satisfaction, especially harder seeds like fenugreek. I also invested in a Premier wet grinder, which does the job (and makes dosai batter and chutney, too.) However, I was looking for an alternate quick method. So I used a dedicated coffee grinder and it works fine...but when I use oil to fry the spices, or add coconut, the moistness makes for a messy clean-up. How do people in India grind these spices?

Thank you so much. I subscribed to you so I can keep up with the latest recipes.

Sujatha said...

Wow, You seemed to be completely drawn into Indian cooking!

For grinding the spices, you need to find a heavy duty Indian blender which comes with jars of different size. You just need the smallest jar (called chutney jar) for making the spice paste. This has a special blade that can even grind hard stuffs like coconut etc.

Take a look at this link...

Hope this helps and Happy Cooking!

Sanjeev P said...


Perfect recipe.... Wow. Made it 2 times in 2 weeks with Cat Fish and both times it was awesome. Thanks again.