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I've probably mentioned before that fish addiction runs in my family. Let me give you an example... My grandfather would go fishing late at night at a lake in our village. I'm told that he would tell my grandmother to grind the masala and keep everything ready for when he got back. As soon as he returned with the live fish, she would quickly prepare the fish gravy. He HAD to eat it before he'd be able to get some peaceful sleep.
My mother and amayee (my maternal grandmother) both start drooling the second they set their eyes on fish. I wasn't a huge fan of fish as a child, but I think the fish bug has bit me too! I often find myself in a fix getting a really strong fish craving only to run to the fish market, buy some really good fish, make some fish kuzhambu and proceed to devour it!
This recipe is one that always hits the spot! It's inspired by a recipe that I saw on the internet long before I started this blog. I quickly scribbled down some of the points and didn't record the website. So, I apologize for not being able to give that person credit.
The awesome thing about this recipe is that you grind all of the required masala. Seasoning is done with onions and garlic. The fish is then cooked in the ground masala and tamarind. It's really delicious without the addition of any coconut (if you're concerned about that)!
Also, if you have any reservations about your fish (i.e. you're not sure it's the best), this is the recipe to go with! The combo of the fennel flavor with black pepper, green chillies, and garlic is really special and will help to overcome any possible fishy aroma you may be concerned about. Without any further ado, let me get to the recipe!
Fish - approx 2 lbs, cleaned, cut into thin slices
Tamarind - small key lime size, soaked in water, and juice extracted
Shallots - 2 medium, sliced finely
Garlic - 3 cloves, chopped finely
To grind into paste:
Shallots - 1 medium
Tomato - 1 medium
Black peppercorns - 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
Green chillies - 3-4, or to taste
Curry leaves - 6-8 (optional)
Chilli powder - 2 tsp, or to taste
Coriander powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Oil (recommended: sesame oil)
Methi seeds/vendheyam - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 10
1. Wash the fish in water with turmeric powder and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add the seasoning ingredients. Once the methi seeds have browned and spluttered a little, add the sliced shallots.
3. Fry the shallots until softened. Then, add the chopped garlic and fry until fragrant.
4. Pour in the ground masala, tamarind extract, and required salt. Allow to boil until thickened to desired consistency. Note: Make this a little thicker than your ideal gravy consistency as the fish will cause the gravy to loosen once it's added!
5. Now, gently place the fish pieces in the gravy. Do not mix with a spoon at this stage. Just pick up the pot by the handles and gently swirl the gravy over and around the fish. Allow to simmer until the fish is cooked, about 5-6 minutes. Turn off and enjoy with hot steaming rice!
This delicious bowl of meen kuzhambu is on its way to dear Sig who is hosting JFI tamarind this month. Hope she enjoys it as much as we did!