This fish curry is incredibly easy to prepare, and would have been the staple dish in many Indian households where fish was easy to access. In my grandmother’s house, the fresh masalas would be ground and the coconuts opened and scraped first thing in the morning. The fish seller would come to the door with a selection of the day’s catch, and by lunchtime the curry would be ready.
I use my bottle masala for this recipe, if you don’t have any, use a very good curry powder (one without salt, sugar, flours, preservatives or anti-caking agents) or try a simple mix of red chilli powder, turmeric and ground cumin and coriander.
For up to 4 people you will need:
500 grams of fish fillets (I used Spanish Mackerel)
3 tablespoons of oil (coconut oil works well)
a stalk of curry leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon of bottle masala
1/3 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of salt
a stock cube
1 teaspoon of tamarind paste
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
a tin of good quality coconut milk (I use Ayam brand)
Place the fish fillets on a plate and sprinkle with the bottle masala, salt and turmeric. Turn over to coat, and leave to marinate for 30 minutes or so (you can also cook immediately if you don’t have the time). In a large frying pan, heat the oil and fry the curry leaves if you have them. Turn the heat to medium-low and place the fish fillets in a single layer. Fry for a minute or so and turn over to brown the other side. Next slowly add around 200 ml or so of coconut milk, crumble in half to one stock cube and stir gently to mix, ensuring you don’t break up the fish too much. Let the curry cook on a low heat for 10 minutes or so. At the end, add the sugar and tamarind paste and stir again. Taste for salt, sugar and the right amount of ‘sour’ from the tamarind, before serving. If you don’t have tamarind you can use some freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice.