This is the traditional Kerala Red Fish Curry. As usual being young and foolish I didn’t know a good thing when I had it and used to fight with my Mom when she made it especially to go with Rice. Now my husband and I consider being able to make a decent fish curry of this genre to be one of our best culinary achievements! We had considerable help and a personal demo at our house from his Aunt in this regard. Deceptively simple to make once you master it, the authentic taste used to elude us for the longest time.
Fish – 1 ½ lbs. I use Salmon. Heard King fish is good too.
Ginger – 2” piece
Big Onion – ¼ or ½ as prefered
Kudam Puli (kokum?) – 3 or 4 pieces (Iguess this can also be substituted with the more common tamarind paste but have not tried that)
Kashmiri Chili powder – 4 tbsp
Chili powder – 1 tsp
Water – 2 ½ cups
Salt to taste
Cut the fish into pieces. Can keep the skin or remove it. I have tried both and aside from my son who does not want to see it at all it does not matter. When leaving the skin on you have to make sure that the skin is cleaned well as the grocery stores don’t always clean the scales as thoroughly as we’d like to use in curries. Some grocery stores will remove the skin for you if you request. This is what we usually do. Washing the fish with lemon juice will help keep the smell at bay. It is also good to wash your hands afterwards. Mix the fish pieces with 2 tbsp Kashmiri chili powder and salt and marinate from ½ hour to 2 hours or even overnight.
Grate the ginger and onion. Heat the Kudam Puli pieces in 2 ½ cups of water in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Let it sit a little so the water acquires the sourness. This can be prepared early on while grating the ginger and onion.
Heat oil in a pan and sauté the grated ginger and onion. I add salt at this step as usual. Add the remaining chili powders and sauté till the aroma of the roasting powder rises up from the pan. Now add the puli pieces and water and mix well. Add fish to this mix, boil once. Cover and cook at low heat for 10-15 minutes. Remove the puli pieces depending on your taste. Optionally you can season with mustard and curry leaves by heating them in oil and adding to the curry in the end. This curry is like wine and gains more taste as it sits.Goes with plain Rice and any kind of Tapioca.
Take 2 dry red chilies cut into a few pieces and a few grains of methi to add with the onion and curryleaves for a more flavored seasoning.