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Friday 11 April 2014

Foodie Fridays: Fish Curry

I've been meaning to write down some of my favourite recipes for some time now, but as I tend to improvise when cooking it's difficult to report my formulated results because they don't exist. Anyway, anyone who knows me, knows that I love to cook and eat, especially for and with friends.

I recently cooked a fish curry that I was very pleased with and in order to help myself remember it, I thought I'd write it down here, I'd be very interested to hear from anyone who tries this recipe out for themselves. As with most of my 'recipes' it's a bit of cheat, I cut corners, and tend to add whatever I've got around the kitchen that I think will go.

So, this might become a semi-regular piece, and as I've some more standard recipes (for 'breakfast bars', pumpkin soup, and for hummus) that I tend to do from memory, I thought I might like to share them, because if someone else enjoys them that would please me.

This particular recipe was inspired by a friend's visit to a Kerala restaurant in Leamington and their report of the fantastic fish-based foods therein. Also, I was watching Wes Anderson's 'The Darjeeling Limited' that evening and felt sufficiently inspired to create some Indian cuisine of my own. Here's what I made:

Coconut Madras Fish Curry (lunch the next day)


(This was enough to serve two and feed them lunch the next day, with rice AND potatoes it could easily feed four I think)

Heat - Medium. If you like it hotter add more chili and perhaps top with some fresh green chilies too. Garlic lovers can add more garlic too.

400g White Fish, I used frozen Basa or River Cobbler, cut in large chunks
One and a half inches of fresh Ginger, peeled and grated
4+ cloves of Garlic, smashed and finely chopped
2+ green Chillies, deseeded and chopped
4-6 Spring Onions, chopped (save some 'greens' for topping)
6 Cardamom Pods, seeds removed and ground
1 teaspoon of Turmeric powder
3 tablespoons of Madras Curry Paste (or make your own!)
1 tablespoon of Tamarind paste
200g Fine Green Beans, cut into short lengths
1 large Aubergine, cubed
250ml Coconut Cream
Lime zest, i.e. grated skin of one lime
50ml Single Cream (optional)
Small bunch of Coriander Leaves, chopped
Butter and Vegetable Oil for cooking


1. In a large sauté pan, frying pan, or wok heat the oil (couple of tablespoons worth) and add some butter (I use quite a small amount, but this can be left out altogether). Once you're at a low-medium heat (not too hot, you do NOT want to burn your garlic) add your garlic, ginger, chilies, and spring onions. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes while you prepare the vegetables. Lower the heat if browning, this should just be softening and sweetening the initial ingredients.
2. Add the beans and aubergine. Keep the lid off and gently stir until lightly browned. You might want to raise the heat a little. Add the fish and cook all for a few more minutes.
3. Add the ground cardamon seeds, turmeric, Madras paste, and tamarind paste. Stir so that all the veg and fish is coated, but be gentle! You don't want to break up the fish. Add a little water and cover. Leave for about five minutes.
4. Add the coconut cream and lime zest. Leave the lid off while the cream melts. Coconut milk or block can be substituted if you can't find any, but you'll need to readjust amounts.
5. Lower the heat and leave to cook, cover with lid if thick, remove if sauce is too thin. It doesn't really need much more cooking now, but 10-30 minutes will do no harm and, indeed, will help intensify the flavours. During this stage cook the rice and/or potatoes (see below)
6. Finally, stir in cream and half the coriander. I took the pan off the heat to do this, as I'd hate to split the cream. It's now ready to serve! After serving, top with the rest of the coriander and the saved chopped spring onions.

New potatoes and Greens

As I like boiled new potatoes with fish, I made up this Indian style addition. Could be served instead of basmati rice or with the rice as a third dish (depending on numbers and appetite).

Enough baby potatoes for any many as needed (9 potatoes for 2 people)
Spinach, Watercress, and Rocket (any combination thereof)
Garam Masala
Black Onion Seeds (a.k.a. Nigella Seeds)

Wash and chop your baby potatoes in quarters, or however small or large you like them (indeed, boil them whole if you prefer). Boil until soft, drain.
With the potatoes in the colander, add some butter to the pan and once melted add a good spoonful of Garam Masala and your onion seeds. After one minute return the potatoes to the pan, how long you cook them is personal taste. I simply stirred them until they were coated into the Garam Masala and seeds, but you could fry them as long as you like. Remove from heat and stir in the greens. I used about 50g of a spinach, watercress and rocket salad bag, but any combination would work fine (I plan to just use spinach next time and make a quick sag aloo). Stir until the leaves are wilted. Now it's ready to serve.

Serve with plain basmati rice or add a few ground cardamom seeds and a teaspoon of turmeric to the water for an alternative. Indeed, the rice can be as fancy as you like, but as it's such a flavourful curry, perhaps plain is better.

Some homemade naan would also help to soak up the juices of the curry, but we didn't quite get that far. Something to try in the future.

A nice glass of a cold chardonnay finishes this meal off perfectly.