Fish is a staple food in the diets of most people from Kerala and so it is at our home! We buy fish as often as we can – the only trouble being that we eat sea fish, and getting sea fish here is an effort!! We’ve got to plan early to get to this particular market which is easily three quarters of an hour from where we stay! But if you are a non-vegetarian then you’ll definitely understand when I say that the trip is absolutely worth it, especially if you can get some fresh fare!!
Apart from the fact that fish tastes great, its a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids. So those of you who love your hearts…..your salvation lies in fish….vegetarians please excuse – you have a whole lot of other sources of Omega 3-s!! 🙂
Fish preparations in Kerala are innumerable and they vary according to the region and culture in each part of the state!! There is Fish Curry, Fish fry, fish cutlets and what not. Fish curry has several versions – with coconut and spice paste, with roughly ground coconut and spices, with gamboge/kokam, with coconut milk, with gamboge and coconut milk and sometimes with neither!! And I almost forgot….we also use green mango/raw mango to make fish curry at times.
This recipe that I am writing about here is more like a stew. We make an almost similar version with chicken too. Anyway….here goes the recipe for Fish Mappas.
1/2 kg fish (pearl drop, salmon or pomfret would work…i used pomfret!)
1 large onion chopped
1 large tomato sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 small piece cinnamon
A large pinch of fenugreek/methi seeds
Coconut oil (you could use regular sunflower oil too….but coconut oil will give it a distinct Kerala taste!!)
a handful of curry leaves
8-10 cashew nuts
1 cup thick coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water
4-5 cloves garlic
1 in. piece ginger
2-3 medium sized green chillies
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp pepper powder
Make a paste of the cashew nuts and mix it with the coconut milk.
Marinade the fish with Set 2 ingredients and keep aside for about 15 minutes…..the longer the better….but 15 mins was good enough.:-) Next, shallow fry the marinated fish in some oil. Make sure the fish does not completely turn brown. The idea is to fry it just enough and then let it cook in the curry.
In a clay pot (believe me….fish curry tastes completely different when cooked in a clay pot) heat the coconut oil and splutter the mustard seeds in it. Add fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, cloves and cinnamon. Then add the crushed ginger. garlic, green chilli and the onions. Once onions turn translucent, add the tomatoes and salt and fry again for a few minutes or till the tomatoes turn soft. Add the coconut milk and water and bring it to a boil. Add the fish pieces to this curry and close the pot and cook until the fish is cooked through and the gravy turns to a nice consistency like that of a stew. Check seasoning and serve!!
We love to eat this curry with some bread or appams or even some plain white rice!