Oct 16, 2009

Fish Curry-- the only ONE Recipe that is really a curry.

One thing bothers me. The use of the word 'curry' in english. Its unfair. The moment someone says 'curry', it automatically builds up a stereotype in the mind and its almost a let down when a particular dish does not 'live up to the standards'. Well, for one thing it is not a standard. More like an expectation. I grew up in India. A place everyone associates as the birthplace of curry. So anything spicy looking is automatically categorized as curry! Think again. You are in for a surprise.

And here is a moment of truth.

There is only one recipe with minor modifications (using yoghurt in the northern part and coconut in the southern part of the country) to that recipe which will qualify as  'curry' in india. One recipe. Not everything which looks spicy. And curry is not something one would serve guests either. It is not available in restaurants. In cheap eateries maybe. But that's about it. And it is not even hot...well you can of course make it hot. But it does not have to be so. This is the first time...I am actually posting the recipe of a curry. The only 'real' curry you can make.

Oh! here is a fun story. My friend, Katrina loves Indian cuisine. The American version. Popularized by restaurants across the country. The red colored stuff  with an  unhealthy and hot  taste to it. Lots of grease. That stuff. Her favorite is chicken Tikka masala. And she went to India. Hoping to taste the ' real chicken Tikka masala'. She walked into a restaurant and not finding it on the menu- asked the waiter. They did not know what she was talking about!! I am telling ya..these restaurants have ruined the loveliness of Indian cuisine. I wonder if everyone loves this cuisine..what would they do with the real stuff--which is gorgeous!! And so unlike what is dished out in the name of Indian cuisine.

In India there is nothing called a chicken Tikka Masala. There is something called chicken tikka, something called chicken masala. Similarly, you don't get curries in India. Except in homes, where it is an-easy-to-make flavorful dish, light on your tummy.

Taken aback? Its the truth.

But have no fear...for this one time you will know what a 'curry' actually looks and tastes like. And yes the red color would come from tomato. Not food color.

I will be using Trout-- my fave one and also one which is always on sale :)


1 trout fish. Clean the fish and divide it into three or four pieces. You can also use any fish you like. All is good.

2 medium size tomatoes- chopped
you can substitute with 1/3 cup of yoghurt, or 1/3 cup of coconut milk, or a mixture of both. I find tomatoes the most flavorful and healthy

1 medium size onion- chopped

1 green chilli pepper- optional

2 cloves
2 cardamom
2 pepper corn
1 bay leaf
small bit of cinnamon stick-- together this is called 'garam masala' translating literally to,  'hot spice'-- not because it is hot on your palate..but because it generates heat in your body.

half a tsp of grated ginger
half a tsp of grated garlic  optional

1 tsp of coriander powder
A pinch of turmeric
A pinch of cayenne pepper optional

2-3 tbsf of regular oil

half a cup of water or veg stock.

salt to season.

Here is to curry!

Season both sides of fish with salt. Take a tsp of oil and rub it on both your palm and just lightly brush the fish in that oil. This should be enough for all the pieces of that one fish. Place the fish on a baking tray and broil it on high for 20 minutes or till fish is white.

In a shallow skillet, heat the remaining oil. When hot, pop the cardamom, clove, cinnamon, peppercorn and bay leaf in that oil. Wait a couple of secs. Add the onion and fry till almost brown. 3-4 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic (if you are using them). Fry for another minute. Add the tomatoes and keep sautéing for a 2-3 mins. Add the coriander, turmeric and the cayenne pepper ( if you are using them, I don't). Fry for half a minute. Add the water or veg stock. Here is a tip. Use as warm a water as you can. This makes any dish tastier. The hot water prevents clumping of spices which is what happens if you pour cold water or stock. If you are using stock take it out of refrigerator an hour before using. Will take that chill off . Bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. That is your curry sauce.

You can now do either of the following

 1. Place the broiled fish in a serving tray and pour the sauce all over it
 2. Put the fish back into the sauce for a couple of minutes. And take the whole thing of the stove.

The second option allows more penetration of the curry sauce into the fish.

This is the real curry!  Serve it with jasmine rice. Its awesome. Good for your palate and easy on your tummy.

Happy eating and healthy living!


Trish said...

Ahhhhhhhhhh...a real curry. Grin. You are right....most americanized or westernized versions are not really curry at all. But then, I am so happy to see my colleagues even try spicy foods that I don't mind calling them curry. Even my MIL calls all her cooking curry by now... I love your recipe. Tis delicious I can tell. I am NOT a huge fish fan...wish I were....but the hubby would like this like crazy!

Nat said...

JW Fianlly someone sets the record straight : ) ... the truth is though, although I too come from a curry related back ground, I find my self tailoring the spices to suit my family now and lean heavily toward the western curry standard. Trout is my all time favorite fish, your curry is ' Pure Curry Perfection' ! I would love to dip some crusty bread in that gravy ! hhpmhh...

Palidor said...

What a great post! So true that many North Americans don't know what real curry is. Just like they don't know what real Chinese food is, thanks to the bastardized American-Chinese crap that restaurants dole out. Oops, did that come out a little too strong?

Back to the curry, it looks fabulous. I've made curry salmon, but never thought to do a whole trout. Usually I get salmon steaks because they're most resistant to flaking apart.

Olive said...

wow, thanks for the info, I didn't know that and now I know what a garam masala is. I'll keep this and also your chicken with yogurt and will definitely try it. :)

Jhonny walker said...

Thanks everyone!
@ olive-- yes that is garam masala-- you can skip the cardamom, bay-leaf and the peppercorn. I sometimes just use cinnamon and cloves :)

@ Nat and Palidor: Yay for us...Palidor, you did not come to strong, given the fiery content of my post. its fun to be able to just say it :)

Trish...all those spicy things have fun names..the one you made would be close to 'torkari'-- meaning veggie mixture!

Anonymous said...

I love Indian spices!This looks like a delicious recipe to try! In Colombia we like to cook a whole fish in soups or stews :)

Velva said...

Thanks for giving me a curry education that was much needed. Enjoyed your blog post!

P.S. congrats on the driver's liscense