Fish currySubscribe to Sainsbury's magazine
Anjum Anand has created this aromatic fish curry using a light peppery spice mix which can be used in a variety of curries
For the Chettinad fish spice mix (makes 30g, you will need 20g for this recipe)
- 3 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 4-8 dried Kashmiri red chillies (or 2-3 dried bird eye chillies)
- 15 curry leaves (dried or fresh)
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
For the fish curry
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 10 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 medium tomatoes (about 350g), chopped
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 20g Chettinad spice mix
- 2 tsp tamarind paste, or lemon juice to taste
- 500g firm white fish, cut into cubes
- a handful of chopped fresh coriander
- rice or chapatis to serve, optional
Prepare the sauce up to the end of step 3, cool and chill for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month
First, make the Chettinad fish spice mix. In turn, lightly dry roast each of the following spices in a frying pan over a gentle heat, separately so nothing burns or is too raw; 3 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp cumin seeds, 1 tbsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp black peppercorns, 4-8 dried Kashmiri red chillies (or 2-3 dried bird eye chillies), tipping each into a bowl or mortar as they are done. Fry 15 curry leaves (dried or fresh) in 2 tsp vegetable oil until crisp. Drain, then add to the spices. Grind until completely smooth and powdery using a spice blender or a pestle and mortar. Store in an airtight container away from light for up to 3 months.
Tip This spice blend is very versatile and can also be used to make a mild chicken or vegetarian curry.
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan. Add the mustard seeds and cook for 5 seconds. Turn the heat down and add the cumin seeds. Cook until they are popping. Add the onions, ½ teaspoon salt and fry until soft.
- Meanwhile, blend the garlic with enough water to make a smooth paste. Add this to the cooked onions and cook over a moderate heat until the water has evaporated, then fry over a gentle heat until the garlic smells fragrant and cooked, another 30 seconds.
- Blend the tomatoes to a purée then add to the onions, with a good pinch of salt and the turmeric; cook, stirring often, until the water has evaporated, the tomatoes have cooked down and oil is released to the edges of the pan, around 8-10 minutes. Add 20g of fish spice blend along with a splash of water, cook, stirring, until the water has gone. The repeated stages of cooking to reduce the liquid after each addition develops the flavour of the sauce.
Add 250ml hot water to the pan along with the tamarind (or a squeeze of lemon juice) and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes and add the fish. Cover and simmer until the fish has cooked through, around 3-5 minutes. Scatter with coriander and serve with rice or chapatis.
The Chettinad style of cooking comes from the south of India. They were a community of traders, dealing mostly in black peppercorns, and their food was wonderfully aromatic. This lightly peppery spice mix is perfect for cooking with fish.