(basic) Kerala Fish Curry

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This was one of the first recipes I learnt from my mom when I started cooking. I have made it with different types of fish but, truth be told, they taste the best with any Indian fish you can get your hands on. This was also the most requested recipe since I inaugurated my blog few weeks back. So here goes.

A little (aversive) digression before I get into the recipe. Please avoid reading this paragraph further if you are really hungry and just want to get to the recipe¬†ūüôā (But do come back after you are satiated¬†and continue reading this part just FYI.) So as far as types of fish goes, my sincere advice as a friend is to please avoid Tilapia¬†or any farm raised fish. I used to eat individual-packaged frozen Tilapia fillets¬†a lot during my graduate-school-single-life but I learnt a few years back that they are bottom feeders (meaning they essentially feed on waste of all the fishes above them in the food chain) and that they are mostly farm raised. ¬†Farm raised fishes are raised with so many chemicals that all the benefits you usually get from eating fish are completely negated. More information can be found here and here. And if you are still not convinced just google “farm raised fish”and feel free to find more links yourself. I currently buy any fish other than Tilapia (¬†mostly, Salmon or Mahi-Mahi )¬†which are wild-caught, fresh or frozen depending on availability.

So getting back to the quintessential kerala fish curry. This curry is the basic fish curry recipe you can build upon. If you would like to add coconut milk to make the gravy thick, you can at the last second simmering stage (although I’ve never tried it, I’m sure the coconut flavor will¬†be yummy!). The fish is cooked in a tamarind-broth which takes on the beautiful flavors of the fish you are using. Be sure to not overcook the fish as it will begin to flake. I love to eat the curry¬†with some rice and yogurt as it brings back wonderful childhood memories of my family¬†having lunch on a routine weekday. The simple pleasures of life, eh?

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(basic) Kerala Fish Curry

Cooking time: 30-45 minutes
Yields: 4  servings

Ingredients

  • 4 Fish fillets, medium size
  • 1/2 big onion, chopped
  • 4 green chillies, splitted
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, finely chopped/paste
  • 1/4 tsp garlic, finely chopped/paste
  • 1/4 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • a sprig of curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste/a lemon size ball of raw tamarind¬†(refer notes)
  • 1.5 -2 cups of warm water¬†(if using coconut milk, please refer notes)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp chilli powder (refer notes)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, or oil of choice
  • For Fish Marinade:
    • Salt, as needed
    • Turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp
    • Chilli powder, 1 tsp

Method:

  1. Wash and dry the fish fillets.
  2. Marinate it with the fish marinade ingredients and keep it aside. Preferably for 2 hours, but it is okay if it is done at the beginning of the preparation.
  3. If using raw tamarind, let it soak in the warm/boiling water for atleast 15-30 minutes and drain the pulp. Keep the tamarind juice aside. If using store bought tamarind paste, mix the paste with warm water till completely dissolved and keep aside.
  4. Add  oil in a pan on medium heat. Once it is hot, add the mustard seeds. When it begins to crackle, add the curry leave and jeera/cumin seeds
  5. After a few seconds, add onions. Cook till translucent.
  6. Add ginger, garlic and green chillies. Stir and cook it till the raw smell disappears.
  7. Now, set the heat to low.Image 1
  8. After a few seconds, add the turmeric powder and chilli powder. Stir it for a quick 1-2 seconds and then immediately add the tamarind juice (Take care to ensure that the chilli powder and the turmeric powder does not get burnt)
  9. When the water starts to boil, add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add more later, if needed.
  10. Now add the fish pieces, one by one. If the pieces are not submerged completely, add enough water to just cover them.Image 3
  11. Close the vessel and let it cook on a medium flame for 20-30 minutes, depending on the fish you are using.
  12. After half hour, check if it completely cooked otherwise let it boil for some more time, but without lid.
  13. Let it boil till the water reduces slightly and the gravy thickens.
  14. Once done, let it simmer with the lid closed till it is time to serve. Serve with plain rice.Image 4

    Notes:

    1. I generally use tamarind paste since it is convenient and quicker on a weeknight. But using fresh tamarind pulp and extracting the juice will increase the flavor of the dish.
    2. 2 teaspoons of regular (not kashmiri) chilli powder is necessary for medium spice level in the dish. Mixing 1-1/2 tsp regular chilli powder with 1/2 to 3/4 tsp kashmiri chilli powder will enhance¬†the signature “red” color of the Kerala fish curry. So if you want that extra red, do add partial kashmiri chilli powder. Otherwise, feel free to use either kind or a mixture of them. However, if using only kashmiri chilli powder, you might have to increase the amount used to 3-4 tsps to get adequate spice level in the dish.
    3. If using coconut milk, add 1/4 – 1/2 cup thin coconut milk along with the tamarind broth and proceed with the recipe.

(basic) Kerala Fish Curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 - 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A simple and quick authentic Kerala fish curry (Fish slowly cooked in a tamarind-broth)

Ingredients

  • 4 Fish fillets, medium size
  • 1/2 big onion, chopped
  • 4 green chillies, splitted
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, finely chopped/paste
  • 1/4 tsp garlic, finely chopped/paste
  • 1/4 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • a sprig of curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste/a lemon size ball of raw tamarind¬†(refer notes)
  • 1.5 -2 cups of warm water
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp chilli powder (refer notes)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, or oil of choice
  • For Fish Marinade:
    • Salt, as needed
    • Turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp
    • Chilli powder, 1 tsp

Directions

  1. Wash and dry the fish fillets.
  2. Marinate it with the fish marinade ingredients and keep it aside. Preferably for 2 hours, but it is okay if it is done at the beginning of the preparation.
  3. If using raw tamarind, let it soak in the warm/boiling water for atleast 15-30 minutes and drain the pulp. Keep the tamarind juice aside. If using store bought tamarind paste, mix the paste with warm water till completely dissolved and keep aside.
  4. Add  oil in a pan on medium heat. Once it is hot, add the mustard seeds. When it begins to crackle, add the curry leave and jeera/cumin seeds
  5. After a few seconds, add onions. Cook till translucent.
  6. Add ginger, garlic and green chillies. Still and cook it till the raw smell disappears.
  7. Now, set the heat to low.
  8. After a few seconds, add the turmeric powder and chilli powder. Stir it for a quick 1-2 seconds and then immediately add the tamarind juice (Take care to ensure that the chilli powder and the turmeric powder does not get burnt)
  9. When the water starts to boil, add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add more later, if needed.
  10. Now add the fish pieces, one by one. If the pieces are not submerged completely, add enough water to just cover them.
  11. Close the vessel and let it cook on a medium flame for 20-30 minutes, depending on the fish you are using.
  12. After half hour, check if it completely cooked otherwise let it boil for some more time, but without lid.
  13. Let it boil till the water reduces slightly and the gravy thickens.
  14. Once done, let it simmer with the lid closed till it is time to serve. Serve with plain rice.

Notes

  1. I generally use tamarind paste since it is convenient and quicker on a weeknight. But using fresh tamarind pulp and extracting the juice will increase the flavor of the dish.
  2. Two teaspoons of regular (not kashmiri) chilli powder is necessary for medium spice level in the dish. Mixing 1-1/2 tsp regular chilli powder with 1/2 to 3/4 tsp kashmiri chilli powder will enhance¬†the signature “red” color of the Kerala fish curry. So if you want that extra red, do add partial kashmiri chilli powder. Otherwise, feel free to use either kind or a mixture of them. However, if using only kashmiri chilli powder, you might have to increase the amount used to 3-4 tsps to get adequate spice level in the dish.
  3. If using coconut milk, add 1/4 – 1/2 cup thin coconut milk along with the tamarind broth and proceed with the recipe.

 

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making-your-mornings-sweeter Granola ! (No refined sugar, No oil, Vegan)

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Did you know granola is basically toasted oats? Well, I didn’t for the longest time! I used to see granola all over the healthy food blogs and grocery store aisles and ¬†think it is made from something completely mystical! Well, no more.

 

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I was trying to figure out a solution to my morning cereal cravings. You know, those days when you don’t want to spend¬†extra¬†time making breakfast when you are either in a hurry or just too plain hungry to make something (sounding like a pattern on this blog?). I used to eat Kellogg’s Frosties or corn flakes most mornings while growing up. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to anymore¬†because I have since then found out that they are not going to aid in my efforts to eat a hearty wholesome breakfast. Thereby leading to my google search for “healthy breakfast cereal recipes”.¬†And that moment when I found out that granola was actually just toasted oats, I think a bulb just went on in my head and I was left wondering how come I didn’t know this any sooner? Anyways, needless to say, some granola, some fresh-cut strawberries and a splash of milk is all I had for breakfast for the next following months. Oh boy, did I enjoy my mornings so much more! I remember so many mornings where my better half would literally walk into me sitting¬†at our dining table with a blissful expression on my face, just savoring the sweet taste of such an amazing healthy yet delicious¬†breakfast!

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This recipe has no refined sugar, no oil and is filled with super healthy nuts, dried fruits and seeds¬†(Yes, you read it right!). I have tried different recipes from online since then (as there are granola recipes galore!) but I always keep coming back to this one since I’ve perfected the ingredients to exactly how I like it. But feel free to increase or decrease the ingredients within a category as long as the relative proportions remain the remain. I sometimes get adventeruous and change things around to get same but slightly different granola every few weeks (or maybe I just make do with what I have!).

Enjoy the delicious taste of healthiness with chopped up strawberries and a third cup of cold/lukewarm milk or have it as an on-the-go snack or if you are, unlike me, the granola-yogurt combination go at it. Whatever route you chose, you are bound to enjoy this bunches of yum. So without much ado…

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Adapted from¬†Food’s of our lives’ Homemade Granola

making-your-mornings-sweeter Granola! (No refined sugar, No oil, Vegan)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Yields: 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 3-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup of raw nuts combination: Almond, Walnuts, Cashews, Pecans or any nut of choice (refer notes)
  • ¬Ĺ cup of seeds combination: Chia seeds, Flax seeds, Sunflower seeds ¬†(optional)
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (dry or fresh)
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons of cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups of no sugar added applesauce (refer notes)
  • ¬ľ cup agave nectar/maple syrup/honey (refer notes)
  • ¬ľ cup Coconut sugar (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 275 F/135 C.
  2. Take a large mixing bowl and add all the dry ingredients, including the spice powders and coconut sugar (if using).6
  3. In another bowl, mix the applesauce, liquid sweetener of choice and vanilla essence well.
  4. If using fresh/frozen shredded coconut, measure the required amount and either defrost it in the microwave for 1 minute or if you have time, let it rest at room temperature till it is softened. If using dried shredded coconut, add it during Step 2.
  5. Add the fresh/frozen shredded coconut (if using) to the dry ingredients mixture and mix it well until thoroughly combined.7
  6. Then add the liquid ingredients and mix it gently (with your hands for better results!) till the entire mixture is wet and they start to cluster slightly. If the mixture is too dry, add a few teaspoons of applesauce till the mixture is just coated but not drenched.9
  7. Layer the mixture on two separate lined baking sheets about ¬Ĺ inch thick.
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  8. Set them in the preheated oven in the middle rack.
  9. Toss them with a spatula every 10 minutes for 40 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the trays around so they brown evenly. After, 30 minutes make sure you check every 5 minutes or so to ensure you don’t burn the granola! Test it by taking a piece and checking if it is dried up (It won’t be crunchy just yet). The timings will change from oven to oven.4
  10. Once it is sufficiently dried up, let it cool on the trays. It will become crunch-ier as it dries.
  11. After it is cooled, either enjoy your breakfast, if you have been waiting hungrily, or store it an airtight mason jar for up to 2-3 weeks.16

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    Notes:

    1. I usually use a combinatiof of almonds, cashews and walnuts. Even 1 cup of 1 kind would work well. I like keeping the nuts whole because they are going to be toasted. If you prefer to break them down, don’t break it too fine because they will get burnt by the time the granola dries up.
    2. I use a combination of chia seeds and flax seeds for an omega boost. But feel free to omit or add other seeds of choice, as you wish.
    3. I usually buy ¬†those prepackaged cups of unsweetened natural applesauce since I don’t use applesauce too much in my cooking. If you are using those cups (3.9 ox ones), then use 2 of them and add 1/2 cup more oats to bulk up the recipe so it doesn’t get too soggy.
    4. 1/4 cup of sweetener is just a hint of sweet. It’s perfect when you add a fruit (think apples/bananas) along with ¬† milk for your breakfast. If you are planning to take it as a snack, maybe increasing the liquid a little more would be more apt. Again, add more oats if the mixture gets too soggy. Alternatively, you can add 1/4 cup more coconut sugar or any other granulated sugar and keep the dry ingredients the same.
    5. Also, if you think the granola is not sweet enough after you bake it, feel free to drizzle any kind of liquid sweetener or granulated sugar when you eat it with fruit or milk.

There are so many combinations that result in beauty. Try out your own and send me pictures of your kitchen conquests!

And as always, I look forward to your comments, questions and feedback!