South Indian Fish Curry

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Last Updated on May 20, 2020 by Chef Mireille

This is my week to introduce unique ingredients, that are not common in the Western diet.  Tamarind is a fruit that also grown in a pod, like cardamom.  Once you open the pod, you eat the fruit, watching out for the seeds.  The fruit has a very tart flavor so when used in savory dishes, sugar is also included.  This is one of the things that contributes to the complex flavors in South Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine.
This is a South Indian style curry with tamarind and curry leaves.  Curry does not simply mean the addition of curry powder, contrary to much Western belief.  A curry is simply a mixture of spices and these spices will vary from country to country and from region to region within the same country.  That is why a curry from Jamaica tastes nothing like a curry from Sri Lanka. Curry leaves grow on a stalk and provide a unique flavor when it is added.  It has a kind of anise flavor and complements fish and seafood superbly.  When paired with stronger meats like lamb or beef, the two flavors battle each other because they are both so strong, but the curry leaves enhance mild flavored white fish.

South Indian Fish Curry
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fried onion paste (use 1 chopped onion if you cannot locate onion paste)
2 tablespoons tamarind pulp, soaked in boiling water
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons chili powder (make sure you use Indian pure chili powder and NOT American chili powder which is a combination of various spices)
1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon grated jaggery
4 large firm fleshed white fish fillets (tilapia, cod, sea bass)
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
6 dried curry leaves (or 10 fresh curry leaves)
Place tamarind pulp in a small bowl with boiling water to cover for 5 minutes.  Strain and retain liquid.
Mix coriander, chili powder and 1 tablespoon water in a bowl to make spice paste.
Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add garlic and onion paste.  Fry for 1 minute.Add spice paste and fenugreek.  Fry for another 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.  Add tamarind liquid, jaggery and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add fish and cover.  Cook for 10 minutes, until fish is cooked thoroughly.  Add salt, to taste.
Finish by stirring in chopped cilantro and curry leaves.
Serve immediately with Basmati rice.

Chef Mireille

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