Here is a recipe for Kerala style fish curry. The fish used this time is shark, but any other fish could be used.
1) 1/2 kg cleaned shark cut into medium sized pieces – marinated
2) onion – 1 medium sized
3) small onions – shallots – 10 pieces
4) green chilli – 2, 3 depending on size
5) ginger – a small piece
6) garlic – 5 cloves
7) curry leaves – 3 nodes
8) tomato – 1 piece
9) dried tamarind – a big gooseberry sized ball
10) mustard seeds – 1 tsp
11) fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
12) cumin seeds – 1 tsp
13) chilli powder – 1 tsp
14) turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
15) salt – 2 tsp
16) coconut oil – 3 tbsp
Step 1: Half kg of cleaned shark is marinated with 1 tsp chilli powder, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and 1 tsp of salt. This is not really needed in the case of all fishes, but some fishes like shark needs to be marinated and kept aside for some time for the salt and chilli to be absorbed in the bulk of the meat. In fact, I kept in the freezer overnight. For most other small fishes, you can directly add chilli, salt, and turmeric while heating.
Step 2: Add a glass of water to tamarind and keep aside for 10 minutes
Step 3: Grind chopped shallots, quarter of onion, half tomato, garlic and ginger in a mixer and keep aside. Chop the rest of onion, tomato, ginger and green chilli, and keep aside.
Step 4: Heat a ‘cheena chatti’ or ‘kadhai’ in medium flame. (The best option is to use an earthen cheena chatti if you have one, else use a metal one). Add 3 tbsp of coconut oil. As it heats, add mustard seeds and wait for it to crack – you can keep a lid on top to avoid spill out. Then add fenugreek seeds and then cumin seeds.
Step 5: As these get heated, add curry leaves from 2 nodes, sliced green chilli and ginger. Shortly, add sliced onion and stir till it becomes transparent. Then add 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and stir till the mix becomes yellow / light brown.
Step 6: Add the ground mix and as it heats up, add sliced tomato. Close the lid and cook in low flame till the tomato becomes well cooked (3-4 minutes). Then add 1 tsp salt and mix.
Step 7: Squeeze and extract water from tamarind and add it to the cheena chatti. Discard the left out tamarind solids. Add 2 glasses of water and cook for around 5 minutes.
Step 8: Add the marinated fish pieces and boil for around 15 minutes or till it gets cooked properly. Sprinkle 1 tsp of coconut oil and garnish with one node of curry leaves. Curry is ready!
Optional Step 9: If you are a coconut lover like me, you can add heated ground coconut and coriander seeds mix to the curry before adding coconut oil and curry leaves, and heat till it starts boiling. Finally sprinkle coconut oil and garnish with curry leaves as before.
Best combination for fish curry is boiled brown rice… enjoy your meal!