Happily, I don’t need to pretend to be an authority on food from Kerala because I know it intimately. Perhaps my love of fish comes from having descended from lakeside and seaside- dwelling folk who lived off the harvest of the sea on the idyllic coconut tree-lined southern west coast of India.

But I shouldn’t need an excuse. This is a wonderful and aromatic curry, simple to prepare, delicious enough to spur repeat performances and perhaps, to convert the sworn carnivore.

Serve with rice or chapati (wholemeal flatbread) and dhal (lentil curry).

  • Fish, firm-fleshed, cubed
  • Coconut milk, 1/3 cup
  • Onion, 1 medium, chopped
  • Green chilli, 1, quartered
  • Ginger, 1 cm worth, chopped finely
  • Garlic, 1 clove, sliced
  • Chilli powder, 1/2 tbsp
  • Coriander, ground, 1/2 tbsp
  • Turmeric, 1/2 tsp
  • Fennel seeds, 2 pinches
  • Mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves, about ten
  • Stock, vegetable, about 1 cup
  • Tamarind, 1 tsp soaked in 1/4 cup boiling water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Cut the fish (salmon works, or any firm white-fleshed fish such as kingfish, haddock, cod, tilapia) into cubes
  2. In a pan, add about 3 tbsp of canola oil over medium heat
  3. Once the oil has warmed up, add mustard seeds and saute till they begin to pop
  4. Add the onion and curry leaves, ground spices and fennel
  5. On medium heat, stir gently till the spices are cooked. A sign of this is when the oil starts to gently seep through the spice and onion mixture
  6. Add 1/2 cup of the stock and bring the gravy together
  7. Prepare the tamarind by squeezing the pulp, which has been soaking in boiling water for a few minutes; strain and add the thick juice to the pan, using half the amount first, then adjusting the curry to how tart you like it
  8. Add the fish but at this point, do not stir the curry any more, lifting the pan and swirling it around instead (to avoid breaking up the fish) to combine
  9. Once the fish is done, about 5 minutes’ time, add 1/3 cup of coconut milk and some stock to make the curry as thick or thin as you prefer
  10. Taste and season to your own preferences

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