Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Me on a Plate - Fish in Creamy Coconut Gravy with Raw Mango

When I started blogging I thought I was writing into an empty space. Except for a handful of friends I knew who are interested in cooking, I wasn't expecting many readers for this blog. But when I received emails and messages from my friends and their friends saying that were trying out my recipes, I was overwhelmed. My joy knows no boundaries. A Very Big Thank You, to all of you for your feedback and encouragement.

Now, let's get to business - my post for today. Most of you, who watch Masterchef Australia series, must be quite familiar with the segment, "You on a Plate". The contestants have to prepare a dish that best represents them. I've been thinking about which dish represents me for a while now and recently decided that Fish in a Creamy Coconut gravy with Raw Mango  (Thenga aracha pacha manga itta meen curry) should be it.
I grew up on the coastal side of Thiruvananthapuram, where fresh fish was abundantly available, direct from the sea (though this is no longer the case). At home a meal was never complete without fish. When others talked about kozhi biryani and kappa biryani, we were more familiar with meen biryani and meen-kappa biryani. Fish was and is an integral part of my life. 'Kerala', the state I come from, literally means 'Land of Coconut (Kera)'. Coconut is very important is most of the dishes in Kerala and is used either fresh or roasted, as a paste, in crushed form or as coconut milk. These dishes are complete only with the use of coconut oil. And lastly, India, my motherland, is well known for a wide variety mangoes, amongst other tropical fruits, vegetables and spices.

So for today, I've prepared a traditional curry from Kerala that combines all three elements, fresh fish, fresh coconut and raw mango into one single dish to represent "Me on a Plate". It is important to use very good quality raw mango for this curry as it imparts a beautiful flavour and sourness to the curry.
Serves: 6 - 8
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 - 25 minutes + time to set

  • 1 kg fish (any white flesh fish like snapper, pinky, silver whiting, tilapia, bass), approximately
  • 3/4 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp chilly powder
  • 1 tbsp kashmiri chilly powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup raw mango, adjust according to sourness desired
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
To temper
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil/ any cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp eschallots, finely sliced
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
1. Cut fish into curry size pieces.
2. Grind together coconut, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, two types of chilly powder, turmeric powder and salt with 1 cup of water to make a fine creamy paste. In a pan, add coconut paste and 1 cup of water and bring to boil. (Remember that this is the consistency of the curry that we need in the end; so if gravy becomes thick during cooking add more boiling water - not cold water - and maintain this consistency). Add mango and cook until three-fourths done.
3. Add fish pieces and 1 sprig curry leaves, cover with lid and cook for 5 to 12 minutes. Boneless fish has to be cooked only for 5 minutes. For smaller variety of fish with bones like pinky, cook for 7 - 8 minutes. For larger variety of fish with bones like snapper, cook for 10 - 12 minutes. Switch off flame. Do not open lid. Let the curry rest for 20 - 30 minutes. Fish will continue to cook for some more time, even after removing from fire. This is the best way to enjoy fabulous flavourful soft fish.
4. Heat oil in pan and splutter mustard seeds. Then add eschallots and stir continuously till it becomes dark brown in colour. Take care not to burn eschallots. Finally add curry leaves and immediately pour over fish curry.

Serve hot with rice.

Note: - Fish curry tastes best when served after 8 hours.

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