Gaurav Shiva shares with you chef’s recipes of the different fish curries from four South Indian states.
Alleppey Meen Curry
This is a speciality dish from the district of Alleppey in Kerala.
Ingredients: 500 g King Fish, 5 green chilies, 2 cloves garlic, 1 large onion, 5 shallots, 100g raw mango, 120g tomato, 2 cups coconut milk, 7g mustard seeds, 35g chili powder, 7g turmeric powder, 14 ml coconut oil, 2g fenugreek powder, 8g curry leaves, 80ml tamarind, salt to taste
Method: Wash and cut the fish into pieces. In a non stick pan, heat coconut oil, add the mustard seeds, when it starts to sputter, add onions, shallots, curry leaves, chillies, garlic and ginger and sauté till the onions turn translucent. Mash the onions with a long spoon. Add turmeric powder, chili powder, salt, fenugreek powder and fry for a minute. Add chopped tomatoes and cook for another minute. Then add the raw mango pieces with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil until the gravy reaches a semi consistent texture. Add the fish pieces and cook for another 5 minutes until the gravy becomes thick. Add coconut milk and let simmer in low flame for another 5 minutes. Check salt and spice levels and adjust accordingly. Serve with hot rice.
Meen Kulambu or fish curry is one of the most traditional fish dishes made in Tamil Nadu.
Ingredients: 250g fish, 75g small onions (shallots), 8 cloves garlic, 50g tomato, 10g tamarind, 4g turmeric powder, 9g chilli powder, 7g coriander powder, 3g mustard seeds, 3g fennel seeds (methi), 15g oil, 28g coconut gratings, 10g curry leaves
Method: Wash and clean fish thoroughly. Soak tamarind in warm water and squeeze the pulp. Coconut gratings must be ground to a fine paste. Chop onion finely. Heat a pan and pour oil. First add the mustard seeds and when it splutters, add fennel seeds. Then add the finely chopped onions and whole garlic. When the onions turn golden yellow, add the curry leaves and chopped tomatoes and fry for 5 minutes. Then you can add the turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder and the tamarind pulp. Add a cup of water and half a teaspoon salt and allow the curry to boil a few minutes. When the curry is boiling, add the cleaned fish pieces along with the coconut paste. After adding the fish, allow the curry to simmer for a few minutes.
Meen saaru is one of the most traditional dish in Karnataka, often mixed and eaten with ragi balls and rice
Ingredients: 100g salted dry fish, 14g thick tamarind pulp, 28g tomato puree, 4g black pepper corns, 14g coriander seeds, 7g cumin seeds, 3g fenugreek seeds, 3g mustard seeds, 3g turmeric powder, 28g oil, 3 red chilies, 4g curry leaves, 14g garlic, 7g finely chopped onion, 1 litre water
Method: Cut dried fish into very tiny pieces. Add water and simmer till fish is cooked. Add tamarind pulp and tomato puree and simmer for 5 more minutes. Powder all the ingredients from pepper corns to mustard seeds together and combine with turmeric powder. Heat oil in a sauce pan and add chillies. Fry for few seconds. Add curry leaves, garlic and onion. Fry till onions turn light brown. Add the powdered ingredients and fry well. Add the fish mixture and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve hot with steamed rice.
Chapala pulusu is one of the most traditional fish dishes made in Andhra
Ingredients: ½ kg Rahu Fish, 14g ginger-garlic paste, 7g coriander powder, 7g red chili powder, 7g cumin powder, salt to taste
For curry: 98g sesame oil, 2g cinnamon, 2g cardamom, 4 cloves, 30g onions, 12g green chillies, 3g fenugreek seeds, 5g mustard seeds, 4g turmeric powder, 40g tomatoes pureed with seeds and skin, 35g tamarind extract, 6g curry leaves, a little water, coriander for garnishing
Method: In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the marinade with the fish and keep aside for ½ hour. Grind the green cardamom, cloves and cinnamon together and remove.Then, grind the onion and green chillies into a paste.
In a pan, heat oil and shallow fry the fish till the outside is slightly crisp. Remove & keep aside.In the same pan, oil, add the mustard & fenugreek seeds and let them crackle.Add the ground onion & chili paste and sauté till transparent. Mix in the tomato puree and tamarind extract, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the fried fish, turmeric powder and ground masala.
Gently stir. Pour enough water to cover the fish slightly. Sprinkle the curry leaves on top, cover & cook for 8-10 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice
(The writer is a hospitality professional)