Serving
(click to enlarge)

Fish in Tamarind Sauce #2
India - Andhra
  -   Machli Mahi Khalya
Serves:
Effort:
Sched:
Do ahead:  
6 main  
***
2-1/4 hrs  
Yes

This curry has only modest chili heat, but it is intensely flavored with spices - not a dish for wimps. The recipe is a bit of a project, but worth it, and the entire prep section (except 5 minutes for cutting the fish) can be done a day ahead. It reheats very well if the right fish is used.



2
1-7/8
ar
------
2
2
1/2
1
2
1-1/2
------
1
5
3/4
------
1/2
8
1
-------
1/2
4
1/2
1
2/3
2
1-1/2
#
oz

---
T
T
oz
T
T
oz
---
#
cl
in
---
t

t
---
c
T
t
t
t

c
Fish Fillets (1)
Tamarind pulp (2)  
Water
-- Spicing
Cumin seed
Coriander seed
Chironji (3)
Poppy seed (4)
Sesame seed
Coconut, dried (5)
-------------
Onions
Garlic
Ginger
-------------
Mustard seeds
Curry Leaves (6)
Nigella
------------
Cilantro Leaves
Oil
Turmeric
Chili Powder (7)  
Salt
Bay Leaves
Water
Prep   -   (1-1/4 hr)
  1. Cut FISH into pieces about 1-1/2 inch on a side by whatever thickness your fish is.
  2. Prep TAMARIND if using block form (see Note-5). If using concentrate, add enough water to make 3/4 cup.
  3. Separately dry pan roast all Spicing items. Cumin and Coriander should be aromatic but darkened just a shade. The remaining items should be roasted a medium blonde. Grind them to to powder, or as fine as you can get them.
  4. Quarter ONIONS lengthwise and slice thin crosswise.
  5. Crush GARLIC and chop fine. Slice GINGER very thin and chop fine. Mix and pound to paste in a mortar.
  6. Mix Curry Leaves, Mustard Seeds and Nigella.
  7. Chop CILANTRO small.
Run     -   (50 min)
  1. In a spacious coverable sauté pan (3 qt), heat Oil over moderate flame and fry Mustard Seed mix until Mustard seeds are popping well.
  2. Stir in the Onions and Turmeric. Fry stirring over declining heat until Onions are a medium blonde, taking care the fond adhering to the pan doesn't get too dark.
  3. Stir in Garlic mix and fry stirring until well distributed, about one minute.
  4. Stir in ground Spicing mix and Chili Powder until well mixed.
  5. Stir in Tamarind, Salt and Bay Leaves. Add Water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer, stirring now and then, for about 15 minutes.
  6. Check consistency. Add boiling water if needed (the onions and roasted spices will thicken it greatly).
  7. Stir in Fish, bring back to a simmer and continue to simmer covered for another 8 minutes, or so.
  8. Check for Salt, then stir in Cilantro and take off the heat.
  9. Serve with plenty of steamed Jasmine rice (it's closer to the rice used in southern India than Basmati is).
NOTES:
  1. Fish:   Select fish that holds together well with wet cooking. Pompano, Black Pomfret, Catfish (American or Vietnamese) are excellent, especially if will need to be reheated. Tilapia (used for the photo example) works well and is economical, but is more fragile and requires gentle handling.
  2. Tamarind:   The pattern recipe calls for block form "the size of a golf ball" (1-7/8 ounces) soaked in 3/4 cup hot water and strained. If your Tamarind is concentrate in a jar, use 7 Tablespoons and add enough water to make 3/4 cup. If you don't have tamarind use 4 t lemon juice - not the same, but it's something. For details and exact method see our Tamarind page.
  3. Chironji:   [Charoli] This ingredient is much used in Andhra, but very difficult to find in North America. I use split raw cashews as a substitute. For details see our Charoli page.
  4. Poppy Seeds:   In India, white poppy seeds are used. They are a bit milder than the blue. For details see our Poppy Seed page.
  5. Coconut:   The pattern recipe calls for "1/4 dry desiccated coconut", which would be about 1-1/2 ounces. We substitute dried grated coconut which is much easier to deal with.
  6. Curry Leaves   These fresh leaves are necessary for the true flavor of southern India, and are now reasonably available in Indian markets, at least here in California. Dried ones aren't of much use. If you don't have them you will have to leave them out - there is no acceptable substitute. For details see our Curry Leaves page.
  7. Chili Powder:   Authenticity suggests Reshampatti chili powder which is fairly hot. The given measure produces a dish of very moderate heat (by Southern California standards). If you want less hot, use Kashmir or Korean powder.
  8. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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