Meen Mulakittathu - Kerala Fish Curry
This curry is a classic part of Kerala Christian wedding feast and a Toddy shop delicacy. It is made with sour fruit called kodumpuli, which turns a deep red color. Since the fruit is so high in citric acid it acts as a preservative, allowing the wedding chefs to start cooking for 1,000 people days before the event. Serve this curry with tapioca.
Ingredients for grinding
1 cup yellow onion (finely sliced) (1 yellow onion)
1 tablespoon ginger-crushed
1 tablespoon garlic-crushed
2 tomato diced
3/4 cup of water
Ingredients for sputtering for mustard
2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup onion (finely sliced) (1 yellow onion)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 sprigs curry leaves
Ingredients for Ground Masala
3 tablespoon Kashmiri chili powder (see notes)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon fenugreek powder
¼ teaspoon Asafetida (Kayam)
1 teaspoon Black Pepper powder
Ingredients for curry
3 to 4 lb King Fish / Indian Mackerel / Sardines / Salmon / Bronzini cut into 2-inch pieces
5 large pieces of kadampuli in water 1/2 cup of water
Salt to taste (I use about a table spoon of Mortons Kosher Salt - see notes)
Wash and soak kodampuli in 1/2 cup of boiling water
Clean fish and cut into small 2-inch-thick pieces.
In a 12-inch frying pan heat the oil. Sauté onions until onions are soft. Add ginger and garlic and continue to sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomato and continue to sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.
In a blender or food processor, blend onion, ginger, garlic, tomato and 1/4 cup water (or more) together to form a paste like thick pesto. Set aside.
In a wide nonstick pan (large enough to hold the fish in a single layer) heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and cover till seeds popped for a few seconds.
Add curry leaves and finely sliced onions, sauté for 1 to 2 minutes till onions starts to brown, stirring constantly
Lover temperature to medium-low, add all ground spices and sauté for one minute until spices begin to fry and smell (burning the spice will ruin the taste of this dish. So do take extra care during this step)
Add kudampuli and water (enough water to cover fish pieces), curry paste and salt, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 8 to 10 minutes, until mixture thickens and turns a little darker.
Place the fish pieces in the pan without stacking them, and spoon the sauce over them. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat low, and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes or until fish is flaky in the thickest part.
Remove from heat and keep covered for at least one hour for the flavors to blend in.
If you feel that the curry is a bit too tangy, remove the kokum pieces.
Adjust the spice level according to your taste. Kashmiri chili powder gives a nice red color to the curry without being too spicy. If you are using regular chili powder, use according to your spice level.
Adjust the quantity of water according to amount and consistency of the gravy that you require. I used about 2 cups of water.
I use Morton's Kosher salt, which has a distinctly different texture from Diamond Crystal - another very common brand. I recommend you pick a salt brand and stick with it. Seasoning is all about consistency.
So, to recap, salt with iodine tastes bad, so just ditch the iodine, pick a brand of kosher salt you like, and start seasoning everything like a pro.