Aromatic coconut milk fish curry

I’ve struggled to find inspiration to cook interesting things now I’m (temporarily) living at my parents’ house, but I managed to rustle up this delicious dish the other day. We love curries in my family (who doesn’t?) and one of our favourites is a Goan fish curry, so this is inspired by the flavours of South India. I used a mixture of basa and cod because they needed using up, but any basic white fish should do the trick.

Top tip for tasty rice: I added 5 or 6 cloves to the rice while it cooked. Alternatively, you could add a stick of cinnamon bark or a few pods. This adds a bit of extra flavour to what can be a pretty plain and boring accompaniment.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, sliced into rings (I find that cutting onions into relatively large slices allows you to cook them for longer initially without them burning, which in turn increases the flavour you can squeeze out of them)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp whole garam masala mix, lightly ground in a pestle and mortar (whole spices give a much more intense flavour) or 1 tbsp ground garam masala
  • 1 tbsp cumin seed, lightly ground, or 1/2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp whole coriander seed, lightly ground, or 1/2 tbsp coriander seed powder
  • 1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 2cm chunk of fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 red chilli, seeds removed and grated or sliced (it’s not a spicy curry so don’t add too much!)
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste/sauce
  • 1 400g tin of coconut milk
  • 4-5 fillets of white fish (basa, cod, etc…)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • coriander to serve

Method

Start by frying the onion in a drizzle of oil of your choice (olive, coconut or rapeseed) on a low heat. After a couple of minutes, add all the dry spices, i.e. everything except the fresh ginger, chilli and tamarind. Stir and continue to cook on a low heat until your kitchen smells of India. Add the garlic and pepper.

The onions and spices may be starting to stick to the bottom of the pan at this point, so add a tablespoon of water to loosen them and make a sort of tasty paste. Don’t add too much, though, as this will water down all that lovely flavour you’ve concocted.

Add the coconut milk, fresh ginger, chilli and tamarind.

I suggest tasting it here, and if any of the spices aren’t coming through enough then add a little more as you see fit. It’s not supposed to be a hot (as in spicy) curry, so try to lay off the chilli. The coriander, tamarind, ginger and coconut milk are the main flavours to focus on, but remember that you still have to taste the fish, too, and that will probably have quite a delicate flavour.

Once the sauce has bubbled away for about 5 minutes, add the fish. Cover and cook until the fish springs back when you touch it. This should take about 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the fillets.

Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh coriander. Serve with basmati rice and more coriander.

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