Friday, October 8, 2010

Mrs. KMM's Fish Pappas

I have a small set of fish recipes that I am happy with. But that doesn't mean one should cold shoulder new recipes. So it is that I took up my trusty old copy of Mrs KM Mathew's 'Nadan Pachakarama'. Leafing through a few recipes that I have and not tried, the word 'pappas' caught my eye. This was not a common preparation at my home but I knew it goes well with Thirutha/Kanampu (Mullet) or Karimeen (Pearl Spot). We love Bass in any form. Be it striped or black. My son's day is made when we fry a Bass. It didn't take long for me to connect the tasty Sea Bass to this awesome recipe.  We buy it fresh from the local Chinese store. The first time I made it, taste was good but gravy looked watery and something felt absent. So when family (includes HAunt who is our top advisor on food matters here) came for a short visit I decided to give this one more concentrated effort and it was worth it. I tripled the recipe and made small updates to the original steps. Recipe follows:

In The Mix
fish - 2 striped bass : cleaned and cut into pieces (~1.5 kg)

coriander powder - 6 tsp
kashmiri powder - 1 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
fresh ground pepper - 1/2 tsp or more as needed

olive oil - 1 tbsp or more
mustard seeds - 1 tsp
methi (uluva) - a few

medium sized onion - 2 sliced
ginger - 1.5" piece peeled and sliced lengthwise

garlic cloves - ~25 thin cloves (slice/crush large cloves)
green Serrano chili - 4 to 5 halved lengthwise
curry leaves - a sprig and a half

water - 4.5 cup or more as needed

kudam puli (Garcinia cambogea )  - 8-9 petals washed thoroughly in warm water to remove any smokiness
canned coconut milk  - 1/3cup or less 

How To Do

Heat 1 tsp oil in a flat bottomed pan and gently fry the fish pieces on both sides. I didn't score the pieces. About 1 min to each side is more than enough. Use two spatulas if necessary so as to not break the fish. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine the 4 curry powders including pepper in a bowl with some water and keep aside.

Heat remaining oil in a pan and break mustard seeds. Then saute onion, ginger, garlic, green chili and curry leaves by adding to the pan in that order. Onions should start to brown and chili should still have some color left. Add the masala powder mix and saute in low to medium heat. This will take a few minutes. Once the aroma start to rise, add water and mix well together. Add salt at this stage so it can be mixed well with the gravy. Now add the fish and kudam puli pieces. Gently mix taking care not to break up the fish. Boil once on hi and lower heat. After this, it is better to just lift up the pan and rotate once or twice to mix things up when needed. Check and add salt if needed to balance the puli/sourness. Let the gravy come to the desired consistancy at this rate on medium to low heat. Pieces should look well coated with gravy.

Add coconut milk and mix by rotating the pan. Use a fork gently to bring the milk everywhere and rotate again. Boils once and remove from heat. Remove some puli pieces if you are not big on that part of the flavor. I remove about 2/3rd of the pieces at the end and only keep 1 or 2 in the setting curry. Enjoy with hot rice, vegetable thoran and buttermilk curry/moru kachiyathu. Hmm... Yum....Bliss here I come!!