Wednesday, 17 December 2014

LUNCH KERALA STYLE - PLATTER FROM GOD'S OWN COUNTRY


Living in Dubai you are bound to be enveloped in the rich culture, finger licking delicious cuisine and much more of "God's Own Country" KERALA. Frequent visits to restaurants serving food from the region has always made me want to recreate our favourite dishes back in my kitchen. But every time I craved for this food, I would go down to the restaurant instead of cooking at home which is a very common phenomenon with us, living in DUBAI because of the close proximity of restaurants which serve Kerala Style Food from our homes here.

However this morning a handsome SEER FISH caught my attention at the Supermarket and I decided that it was now or never that I had to cook a MALABAR FISH CURRY to be served on a bed of NEI CHORU/GHEE RICE and also serve shots of SAMBARAM/SPICED BUTTER MILK with it. I wanted to add in my favourite EGG ROAST DISH too but thinking that, today was a working day and a lavish KERALA STYLE lunch might actually  incapacitate Mr. S on a brisk working afternoon, I decided to confine our LUNCH PLATTER to this. Well I guess the EGG ROAST has to wait to make its way on my plate till the Weekend.


To begin with the lunch preparations, after my Seer Fish stint at the Supermarket I was rushing back to get all the dishes ready in time for lunch, when I remembered that the CLAY POT known as MANCHATTI in KERALA in which all FISH CURRIES are cooked, mine had been broken by little D who was pretending to be a chef while playing with her playmates and had managed to get hold of my sole Manchatti without my knowledge, only last week. I went back to the Supermarket leaving the car engine running to quickly pick up the clay pot as I was getting a bit late by now. Cursing myself for not having remembered earlier I let my eyes quickly scan the length and breadth of the Super Market, with input from my memory to find the section where I had last seen Clay Pots being placed. And as luck would have had it on reaching the place I found not a single piece there. A frantic query to the "May I help you" Guy resulted in a whale of disappointment as he informed me quite bluntly "Out of Stock". Oh God seriously this was not happening to me. After all these years, here I was about to prepare my first Kerala Style Fish Curry and no Manchatti (I had earlier used the Clay Pot to cook Dum Biryanis). After the initial pangs of disappointment I decided that I would make the Malabar fish Curry today, Manchatti or no Manchatti.

In Kerala I was told by my Malayali friends that not only every region had its own Fish curry every household has many different ways of preparing fish. As you all know that each part of Kerala is either close to the sea or river and fish is a staple dish in all menus. Moreover the catch is so fresh here that most of the times all one needs to do is to put in all the spices, aromatics, tamarind or puli as they call it and offcourse the Coconut in the Manchatti along with the fish, cover it with enough water and give it a boil and you are good to go.

Friends as mentioned earlier that I do not have a clay pot to prepare the MALABAR FISH CURRY, but if you can get your hands on a clay pot please prepare using one. The flavours emanating from the clay pot fish curry is of a different level altogether. In this post I will be putting down the recipe of MALABAR FISH CURRY and the recipes of NEI CHORU  and SAMBARAM in subsequent posts with their links given below.


MALABAR FISH CURRY RECIPE : 


SERVES - 4
CUISINE - INDIAN, MALABAR, KERALA
TYPE - MAIN COURSE, CURRY
TIME - 10 MINS PREPARATION  + 25 MINS COOKING 


INGREDIENTS :

1) Fish - 500 gms Any Firm and White fish ( I used Seer Fish Steaks)

 2) Fenugreek Seeds/Methi Dana - 1/2 tsp

3) Curry Leaves - 2-3 sprigs

4) Green Chillies - 4-5 small slit, increase or decrease according to your taste

5) Onions - 1 big finely sliced

6) Shallots - 4-5 roughly sliced

7) Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 tbsp

8) Tomatoes - 1

9) Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp

10) Coriander Powder - 1 tbsp

11) Red Chilli Powder - 1-2 tsp depending on your taste

12) Crushed Black Pepper - 1 tsp

13) Fresh Tamarind or Tamarind Pulp - 1/2 Cup ( Soak fresh Tamarind and take out every bit of the pulp on it ) or 2 tsp of tamarind pulp mixed with water to get 1/2 cup liquid

14) Coconut Milk - 1/2 Cup ( I used 1 Cup because I wanted the gravy thicker and creamier)

15) Salt - To taste

16) Coconut Oil - 2-3 tbsp

LETS GET COOKING IN EASY STEPS :

 

STEP 1: After cleaning the fish and wasting it nicely, marinate the fish in the Tamarind water while you complete the other steps of cooking. 



STEP 2: In a Manchatti heat Coconut Oil and when hot spoon in the Fenugreek seeds, pluck out the curry leaves and put them in and add in the chopped onions too after the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves have finished their spluttering. Leave a sprig of curry leaves to put into the curry during its final stages.


STEP 3: Once the onions loose their colour, add in the slit green chillies, Ginger Garlic paste and tomato. Mix well and cook till the tomato softens and smashes easily with the back of your spatula.


STEP 4: In the food processor or grinder add the chopped shallots, turmeric powder, red chillies powder and coriander powder, 1 tbsp of water and grind to a smooth paste.



STEP 5: Add this mixture to the remaining base ingredients in the Manchatti. Mix well and cook till the entire mix of ingredients in the Manchatti give out a nice aroma.


STEP 6: Once the raw smell disappears and the ingredients become fragrant, add the marinated fish along with the tamarind water. Let it bubble away  for a couple of minutes. 


STEP 7: Time to season the curry with salt. Add the ground Pepper and the remaining curry leaves. Cover the Manchatti and cook till the fish is completely cooked.


STEP 8: Remove the Manchatti from the flame before adding the coconut milk as we do not want the coconut milk to curdle, mix and put the Manchatti back on the flame to bubble away for a couple of minutes or till you get the gravy of your desired consistency. Remove from the flame. Add a tsp of coconut oil on the top( I omitted this step). 



Serve piping hot with breads of your choice or rice. This is a gearty flavoursome Main Course dish which can nicely fit into your lunch party menu.



INGREDIENTS :

1) Fish - 500 gms Any Firm and White fish ( I used Seer Fish Steaks)
 2) Fenugreek Seeds/Methi Dana - 1/2 tsp
3) Curry Leaves - 2-3 sprigs
4) Green Chillies - 4-5 small slit, increase or decrease according to your taste
5) Onions - 1 big finely sliced
6) Shallots - 4-5 roughly sliced
7) Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 tbsp
8) Tomatoes - 1
9) Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
10) Coriander Powder - 1 tbsp
11) Red Chilli Powder - 1-2 tsp depending on your taste
12) Crushed Black Pepper - 1 tsp
13) Fresh Tamarind or Tamarind Pulp - 1/2 Cup ( Soak fresh Tamarind and take out every bit of the pulp on it ) or 2 tsp of tamarind pulp mixed with water to get 1/2 cup liquid
14) Coconut Milk - 1/2 Cup ( I used 1 Cup because I wanted the gravy thicker and creamier)
15) Salt - To taste
16) Coconut Oil - 2-3 tbsp

LETS GET COOKING IN EASY STEPS : 

STEP 1: After cleaning the fish and wasting it nicely, marinate the fish in the Tamarind water while you complete the other steps of cooking. 

STEP 2: In a Manchatti heat Coconut Oil and when hot spoon in the Fenugreek seeds, pluck out the curry leaves and put them in and add in the chopped onions too after the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves have finished their spluttering. Leave a sprig of curry leaves to put into the curry during its final stages.

STEP 3: Once the onions loose their colour, add in the slit green chillies, Ginger Garlic paste and tomato. Mix well and cook till the tomato softens and smashes easily with the back of your spatula.

STEP 4: In the food processor or grinder add the chopped shallots, turmeric powder, red chillies powder and coriander powder, 1 tbsp of water and grind to a smooth paste.

STEP 5: Add this mixture to the remaining base ingredients in the Manchatti. Mix well and cook till the entire mix of ingredients in the Manchatti give out a nice aroma.

STEP 6: Once the raw smell disappears and the ingredients become fragrant, add the marinated fish along with the tamarind water. Let it bubble away  for a couple of minutes. 

STEP 7: Time to season the curry with salt. Add the ground Pepper and the remaining curry leaves. Cover the Manchatti and cook till the fish is completely cooked.

STEP 8: Remove the Manchatti from the flame before adding the coconut milk as we do not want the coconut milk to curdle, mix and put the Manchatti back on the flame to bubble away for a couple of minutes or till you get the gravy of your desired consistency. Remove from the flame. Add a tsp of coconut oil on the top( I omitted this step). 

Serve piping hot with breads of your choice or rice. This is a gearty flavoursome Main Course dish which can nicely fit into your lunch party menu.

CHECK LIST :

1) Fish, 2) Fenugreek Seeds/Methi Dana, 3) Curry Leaves, 4) Green Chillies , 5) Onions, 6) Shallots, 7) Ginger Garlic Paste, 8) Tomatoes, 9) Turmeric Powder, 10) Coriander Powder, 11) Red Chilli Powder, 12) Crushed Black Pepper, 13) Fresh Tamarind or Tamarind Pulp, 14) Coconut Milk, 15) Salt, 16) Coconut Oil

 Reference : Garam Masala 

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