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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Kerala Meen (Fish) Curry

I haven't been able to get to my kitchen and enjoy myself lately.  I've been either out of town or not home in the evenings enough to make a real therapeutic meal.  For me, the therapy starts from the craving, the evaluation of my inventory, the research of my basic idea, to see if it has already been done, and if so, what is it called, and then the preparation.  When I know what order I need to add in my ingredients, I like to set up the kitchen so I can enjoy te process.
The spices go next to the stove, the scrap bag goes next to my cutting board, the veggies are rinsed, and my knives are ready.  If there are scraps I won't be discarding (such as carrot peels), I start with those so I can distribute them to my dragons and my dog throughout the therapy.  I also like to start out sith a clean kitchen, meaning no dishes waiting to be done, and during the simmer surveillance time, I like to wipe down the countertops and wash my accessories I used to chop or peel so that when I'm ready to serve, the kitchen is clean again, save the few simmering items on the stovetop.  The more items need to be organized, the more it relaxes me to set up.  It builds up the suspense of the final product.  It relieves any stress I may have been accumulating, and it's one of the reasons I love cooking Indian and Chinese food so much.  Today, I knew I'd be making an Indian meal, and I knew it would be a meal that would calm me, but excite me at the same time.  A meal quick to put together, but full of suspense.  A meal that would nourish my soul as well as my body.. Of course it would be Indian!
This is a South Indian fish curry.  I like that many south Indian recipes use fish and coconut milk, which are rarely used in other Indian cuisines.  I find coconut milk and curry leaves to be very complimentary.. it is a perfect infuser.
Inspired by KeralaRecipes
Serves 4
500g (1.1 lb) fish filets, cubed (I used pollock)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
6 medium or 4 large shallots, sliced
1 green chile, sliced (I used Moroccan)
6 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch piece ginger, grated
1 can coconut milk
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chile powder
1 tsp tamarind pulp
1 sprig curry leaves
Pinch fleur de sel
squeeze of lime
1.  Heat the oil in a wok and sputter the fenugreek and mustard seeds.
2.  Add the turmeric.  It should fizz, then add the green chile and sliced shallots.
3.  Cook the shallots until translucent, then add the garlic and ginger.  Cook, stirring for about 30 seconds or until the raw aroma disappears.
4.  Add the coconut milk, turmeric, chile powder, and tamarind.  Stir in the curry leaves and bring to a simmer.
5.  Add in the fish cubes.  Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and let sit for at least an hour.  This is the part where the flavors develop.  It can be made a day ahead of time.
6.  When ready to eat, bring to a boil to finish cooking the fish.  It should cook for a total of 10 minutes depending on the size of the cubes.  Taste and add a pinch of salt if needed.
Serve with a squeeze of lime and basmati rice...or in a thali with other pleasant things.  I served mine with some green Puy lentil and carrot dal as well.
These are the details that make my heart beat...

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