"All men are equal before fish"
It's been ages since I posted a fish recipe and while I was debating about which recipe from my drafts should see the light of day, I thought it would be best to take the collective opinion of all the readers on my Facebook page. Out of a choice of 5 recipes the 'fish curry' got the highest votes. But fret not my friends, the muffins, dum biryani, kheer & vegetable stir fry are all waiting to delight you in a couple of days!
Since we like to eat a lot of seafood, I am always on the lookout for different recipes. It goes without saying that the Konkan Coast can boast of a zillion different curries for any given variety of fish. Such is the beauty of our coast. So while I flipped through my recipe book I zeroed in on the Vindaloo style of making the fish I had just popped out of the freezer.
(This is how the curry turns out - a fiery Red colour)
The Vindaloo is typically a Goan dish of meat, usually pork prepared with wine and garlic. These ingredients figure themselves in the term 'Vindaloo' which is a name derived from the Portuguese dish - "Carne de Vinha d' Alhos (where Carne means meat, Vinha means wine and alhos means garlic. However this dish was later modified in Mumbai by the substitution of vinegar for the wine and the addition of red Kashmiri chillies. A Vindaloo is meant to be a spicy (if not the spiciest) dish that has a tang that vinegar imparts. By the way, did you know that Vindaloo is often mistaken to be a dish that has potatoes in it because 'aloo' means potatoes in Hindi!
I love my fish curries, especially the ones which are not too 'coconutty'. Yeah yeah, I have declared my undying love for all things coconut in several of my previous posts, but then the coconut has to be finely ground to form a beautiful base for the fish curry. Only then can you truly savour the flavours released by the fish in question and the spices that are married to it. The urban kitchen gadget a.k.a mixer grinder doesn't give such good results you see, which is why I personally feel that I should smuggle a typical Mangalorean grinding stone (mortar & pestle made of granite) to Mumbai. Sigh! If wishes were horses..
This is also a reason why I like coconut milk (cream) based gravies than those that use grated and ground coconut. My mum used to make the yummiest fish curries with a coconut milk base - slurp! (one reason why I also love Thai curries that are predominantly coconut milk based). I hope to post one of her recipes soon.
As much as we travel & taste the flavours of different cuisines, at the end of the day the most satisfying meal is the one you've grown up eating, even better if it comes attached with sentiments & memories of that special someone who used to prepare it ~ most times it's our mother.
For now, I will leave you to savour the flavours of this different yet delicious Vindaloo which tastes excellent with piping hot steamed rice and a side dish of a simple vegetable (stir fry/thoran/thel piao style). This curry is a striking Red colour thanks to the Kashmiri chillies known for their fiery Red colour but not so much for the spiciness. The tangy notes brought in by the vinegar makes it so similar to the Mangalorean Shirko Shindaap (a style of fish preparation made with vinegar & chopped onions-ginger-garlic-green chillies) yet so distinctly different. You may add any variety of dry red chillies here. If you want a typical Mangalorean taste to your curry you can add the Kundapur/Kumti chillies (Bedgi) that are complete with spice & colour.
This curry is suitable for the preparation of a variety of fish such as Pomfret, Black Pomfret (Sorngul/Maanji/Halwa), Croaker/Jew Fish (Dhadyare/Koddai), Mullet (Shevto/Mala/Paray ), Indian Salmon (Rouns/Rawas), Shethka and Lady Fish/Whiting (Kane) - you get the idea! Ideally any kind of fish that is fleshy and known for its delicate flavours as this masala complements it perfectly.
For the masala
- 500gm Fish as mentioned above (I used approx 570gm of Rawas)
- 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
- 1/2 onion finely sliced
- oil for frying
- salt to taste
- 5-6 long dry red chillies * see note
- 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera)
- 1/4 tsp turmeric (haldi)
- 1 cardamom pod (elaichi)
- 3 cloves of garlic (Indian) with skin
- 1/2 onion (optional)
- 1 tsp vinegar (or to taste)
1. Descale, wash and drain the fish pieces on a colander. Grind all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the masala' to a fine paste. Retain the masala water from the grinder/mixie
2. In a wok or pan, heat some oil & toss in the sliced onion and the chopped coriander, fry till the onions turn golden. Add the ground paste and fry on a slow flame. Add salt to taste, masala water & adjust consistency. Add some more vinegar if you prefer the curry a bit tangy.
3. Bring the gravy to a boil and add the fish pieces. Cook on medium high flame until the gravy bubbles over, reduce flame and cook for another half a minute or till done.
4. Garnish with coriander leaves & serve hot with white or boiled rice
- I used a blend of Kashmiri & Harekala/Mangalorean short red chillies. Adjust this as per spice.
- Add the onion if you prefer some extra gravy to go with rice - but it's totally optional. Since I like my gravies moderately spicy I didn't add more chillies. You can increase the gravy by adding a few extra deseeded chillies
- If you find the taste of vinegar too strong/tangy you can sprinkle a few grains of sugar to slightly alter the taste.