Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that while I love this dish, I have had to modify it from the traditional recipe. Usually, the case is that I find myself short of some of the specialty ingredients used in the traditional version, except for which the recipe is identical. You may be wondering about these specialty ingredients I seem to be so afraid of - the truth is I am not afraid of them. I simply don't buy them because I use them for one or two things, then put them in the back of the pantry or refrigerator or freezer and promptly forget about them until the next purging of the kitchen - during which I grab armfuls of the expired stuff and throw them out. Such a waste. So I haven't stocked these things in years. In most cases I find substitutes that work well enough. However, since I so rarely do this, I am going to throw a curve ball your way for this recipe, where a substitute is just not going to be the same. Missing ingredients notwithstanding, I dare you to try this recipe for yourself and tell me it's not superb :)
(Spicy Kerala Fish Curry)
You will need:
1 lb good fish (cut into bite sized pieces)
3 teaspoons red Chilli powder (soak chilli powder in enough hot water to make a paste)
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger root
- now I'm going to throw that curve ball in your face - go to your nearest Indian store, and ask them for something called "Kudam Puli", buy the smallest package they have - use two 1"pieces for this recipe, soak in a small bowl, in just enough hot water to cover it.)
4 tablespoons Vegetable oil (traditionally, coconut oil is used, but vegetable oil is just fine)
1 teaspoon salt - or more to taste
2 cups water, just enough to cover the fish.
Heat oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or medium sized pot. Add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds, they will start to crackle and sputter in less than a minute. Then stir in onions, sauté for two minutes, add ginger and garlic and fry for about two more minutes. Add the red chilli paste to the pot and fry until oil is floating on the top, about two more minutes. Add the kudam puli and the soaking water to the pot followed by two cups of water, or as much as is needed to cover the fish. Let it come to a boil, then add the fish pieces and then add salt and put the lid on the pot. Turn heat down to low. Do not stir! Let cook like this for about ten minutes or until the fish is fully cooked, and the oil is floating on top. Serve with rice and veggies. Enjoy!