Friday, June 8, 2007

Keralan Fish Curry

This tamarind-tangy curry makes for a perfect dinner on a hot night; light enough not to knock you out, but spiced enough to prompt a heat-drowsy appetite. And it is such gloriously easy food to make. In summer, particularly, that counts. You can easily use any fish, chopped into meaty chunks for the curry itself; or just replace the fish with juicy, peeled uncooked prawns.

  • 2 and three quarter pounds firm white fish
  • salt
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, halved and cut into fine half-moons
  • 2 long red chillies
  • 1 3/4-inch piece fresh ginger
  • pinch ground cumin
  • 1 x 14 oz tin coconut milk (about one and three quarter cups)
  • 1-2 tablespoons concentrated tamarind paste
  • 1 tablespoon liquid fish broth concentrate (or half a fish stock cube)

Cut the fish into bite-sized chunks, put them into a large bowl, and rub with a little salt and 1 teaspoon turmeric. Heat the oil in a large, shallow pan and peel and tip in your fine half-moons of onion; sprinkle them with a little salt to stop them browning and then cook, stirring, until they've softened; this should take scarcely 5 minutes.

Cut the whole, unseeded chillies into thin slices across (although if you really don't want this at all hot, you can deseed and then just chop them) and then toss them into the pan of softened onions. Peel the ginger and slice it, then cut the slices into straw-like strips and add them, too, along with the remaining teaspoon of turmeric and the cumin. Fry them with the onions for a few minutes.

Pour the coconut milk into a measuring jug and add a tablespoon of tamarind paste and the fish stock, using boiling water from the kettle to bring the liquid up to the 6-cup mark. Pour it into the pan, stirring it in to make the delicate curry sauce. Taste and add more tamarind paste if you want to. And actually you can do all this hours in advance if it helps.

When you are absolutely ready to eat, add the fish to the hot sauce and heat for a couple of minutes until it's cooked through, but still tender.

Serves 4-6.

from Nigella Lawson (Forever Summer)

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