Recently I wrote about kappa (tapioca/cassava), and it’s significance in the culinary culture of Kerala. This post is about the perfect companion – the Kerala fish curry (Naadan Mulakkita Meen Curry).
Kerala‘s vast coastline, backwaters, and numerous rivers provide a plethora of fish and other seafood. Access to all this fresh catch has influenced the food habits and recipes of the region. There are numerous recipes that are popular with both locals and tourists. This naadan fish curry is one such speciality.
This unique style of preparation involves slow cooking with pot tamarind (kudampuli), and keeping it aside for 4-5 hours to infuse the flavours. Unlike most of the traditional Kerala recipes, this preparation doesn’t involve any coconut milk or grated coconut. Instead, it’s the sourness of the tamarind, and the mild heat from the chilli powder that forms the character of this fish curry.
Try this recipe once, and you’ll become a fan for life!
Naadan mulakkita meen curry - This unique style of preparation involves slow cooking with pot tamarind (kudampuli), and keeping it aside for 4-5 hours to infuse the flavours. Sourness of the tamarind, and the mild heat from the chilli powder forms the character of this fish curry.
Prep the ingredients - chop the ginger and garlic cloves, and crush them, thinly slice the shallots.
Wash the kudampuli (pot tamarind), and soak it in 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes. Clean the fish and keep it aside. I used seer fish. Pomfret and pearl spot are other good options. Most single-bone variety fishes will work fine.
In a pan or pot, heat some oil. I used a traditional clay pot (man chatti) for an authentic flavour. Splutter fenugreek seeds, followed by curry leaves, and ginger, garlic and shallots.
Add 1/4 cup of water, chilli powder, and turmeric.
Mix well, and fry this mix while stirring occasionally. Reduce till the most of water disappear.
Add two cups of water, salt, and the soaked pot tamarinds (kudampuli) with water, mix well, and bring to boil on a medium flame. Reduce the flame, gently place the fish pieces into the boiling fish curry gravy, and cook with a lid on. Bring to boil again, open the lid, drizzle some coconut oil, and cook for some more time to reduce some water. Stir gently so that you don't break the fish pieces. Switch off when you see the oil emerging on top.
Let this rest for sometime, say 4-5 hours! Yes, that's the secret of this fish curry. We have to give pot tamarind (kudampuli) time to work it's magic. The flavours will slowly work its way through the fish resulting in an authentic fish curry. For best results, cook in the evening, and serve only the next day for lunch.
This goes well with kappa (recipe here) or/and rice.