I woke up this morning, already dreaming of the menu for dinner tonight:-) I had this craving, an urge for making a curry, not the traditional North Indian kind, but from the other end of India. A coastal curry, infused with favors used in Goan and southern Indian cuisines. Coconut is king, when it comes to the star ingredient of any such curry. When one is in India, generally fresh coconut or coconut milk freshly squeezed is used for the curries. Extracting the milk from a fresh coconut can be quite a tedious process, I simply used the canned version which is easily available in any grocery store. Another key ingredient is kokum, which is widely used in Goan and coastal cuisines. It is a fruit, which acts as a souring agent in any curry, and the outer covering of it, is generally added to curries, either in dried form or fresh. It adds a certain level of tartness and balances the flavours of the curry. This year, I was in Goa in summer and picked up the fresh variety, plenty of it! If you cannot get a hold of kokum, tamarind serves as a perfect substitute. Soak a small amount of tamarind in warm water and just squeeze the juice out. Onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and of course, the flavours of spices, add more to the heart and soul of this dish. Finally, the fish, filets of sole, cubed and cooked along with all the yummy flavours and spices, to give the final dimension to this delicious coastal curry. Oh, and one final touch, a personal favourite especially in any coconut based seafood curry I make- a hint of kaffir lime leaves, just 2-3 leaves. Seafood + a lemony lime flavoring = thumbs up!
Fresh sole fish filets diced in cubes-1/2 lb
Coconut milk – 1 1/2 cups
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tsp. Ginger paste, or grated ginger
1 tbsp. Garlic paste, or grated garlic
A couple whole green chillies, slit. Or chopped jalapeños
2 small whole dried red chillies
2-3 green cardamons
A small cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. Black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. Turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. Red chilli powder or paprika
1/2 tsp. Hot madras curry powder
2 pieces of kokum, as explained in the introduction. One could easily substitute tamarind for it.
1 tsp.oil, any cooking oil. Coconut oil is ideal!
2-3 kaffir lime leaves
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Marinate the fish cubes with a little lemon juice, salt, a pinch of turmeric and red chilli powder for 10-15 mins.
In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds, cinnamon, cardamoms, red chillies. Once the mustard seeds start spluttering, add the onions and curry leaves. Sauté till the onions are translucent and start turning pink. Add the ginger, garlic and sauté over medium heat for a minute or two. Lower the heat, and add the remaining spices, turmeric, red chilli powder or paprika, curry powder, sauté for a couple of minutes, make sure they do not burn. Add the tomatoes and let this mixture simmer for 10-12 minutes on low, till it becomes pulpy.
Mix 1/2 cup of coconut milk with 1/2 cup water. This is also called thin coconut milk(if one was extracting fresh milk from a coconut, this would be the second extract, the more diluted form). The first extract is the thick milk, and that is the form of canned coconut milk. Add the diluted coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves and simmer for a few minutes. Add the fish and simmer for 5-7 minutes till the fish is cooked. Add the remaining thick coconut milk. Add salt and black pepper. Serve hot, it is best earn with rice!