This Friday brings with it the start of a new month, a better one than the last, I hope. I don't know about you, but I’m glad January is over; I’m itching to move on with the year and February is always filled with so much more promise, the evenings are becoming lighter and spring is just around the corner. So, to mark the start of a new month, why not try a new recipe? Something you wouldn't normally cook, like a South West Indian Fish Curry.
It was by spending a good few hours researching various different recipes that I was able to create this one, essentially it’s an authentic South West Indian Fish Curry with a few tweaks here and there for personal preference. I know the thought of fish curry makes some people turn their noses up, but to those people I say don’t knock it ‘till you've tried it. This dish makes for a wonderful aromatic light meal that doesn't compromise on flavour. Now, you might be fairly surprised to learn that coconut milk is the base of this curry, but coconut is native to South West India, so it’s a key flavour in many dishes that originate there. It can be in the form of milk, cream or flesh, depending upon the dish. As well as coconut milk being in abundance, rice is the staple diet for all South West Indians so there’s no need for chapattis or naan breads, just plain boiled rice works a treat, simple.
This particular recipe is typical of Goa, where coconut and fish dominate the regional cuisine, and because of the 101 km coastline, fresh fish is often more commonly used than meat. If you look into different recipes you will often find that kingfish, cod and pollock are used in this curry. But, you can use whatever white fish you like, although it’s a good idea to choose one that is robust so that it doesn't end up falling apart. I opted for monkfish because of the delicate flavour and meaty texture.
Don’t stress too much if you can’t get a certain type of fish, fresh and local is best, so just go for whatever looks good on the day. Pollock is a good choice as it’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly than its over-fished counterparts (cod and haddock).
How to bone a monkfish tail
If you’re using a monkfish tail you’ll need to remove the bone. Place the knife into the fish at the thickest end, flat against the bone, run the knife length ways down the bone. Once one fillet is removed repeat on the other side. Remove the thin purple membrane skin from the fish and throw away. Cut the fillets into chunks, ensuring they are all roughly the same size.
South West Indian Fish Curry
1 monkfish tail, boned and cut into chunks
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 white onion, diced
1 tbsp ground coriander
½ tbsp ground cumin
½ tbsp turmeric
½ tbsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp sugar
5 cloves garlic, minced
3cm piece of ginger, minced
2 star anise
2 green chillies (or 1 if you prefer it milder)
1 can of coconut milk
Plain boiled rice to serve
It’s a good idea to do your prep first, and then put your rice on to boil; by the time it’s cooked the curry will be done.
Heat the oil in a pan over a medium-low heat; add the spices and onion and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion has softened. Be careful that the spices don’t burn or they will add a bitter flavour to the curry.
After the 5 minutes add the garlic, ginger and chilli, cook for a further 3 minutes before adding the tamarind, star anise, sugar and coconut milk. Allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Add the fish and cook for 4-5 minutes, serve with rice.