Kerala is one the Southern states of India on the west coast. The state borders Karnataka to the north and north east, Tamil Nadu to the east and south, Lakshadweep Sea to the west. This state was a prominent spice exporter in ancient times and has been international trade center. It produces 97% of nation’s black pepper. The state is the least corrupt states in the country and has high literacy rate. I never been to Kerala and love to visit. It is one of the popular tourist destinations in India. Kerala's beaches, backwaters, mountain ranges and wildlife sanctuaries are the major attractions for both domestic and international tourists. The city of Kochi gets most number of tourists in the state. When growing up I associated Kerala with Onam, avial and coconut oil for cooking.
Kerala cuisine consists of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Spices have been cultivated in the state for hundreds of years and are part of the cuisine. Coconuts are abundantly grown, it is major apart of the cuisine and coconut oil is used for cooking. Rice and tapioca is a staple and many breakfast dishes are rice based. Some of the rice based breakfast items are idly, dosa, puttu and idiyappam. Puttu is cylindrical steamed ground rice layered with coconut. Idiyappam are steamed rice flour noodles. Rice flour dough is pressed into thin noddles and then steamed. Sadya is an array of vegetarian food served on a banana leaf for special occasions and festivals such as Onam. Some of the vegetables very common in cuisine are yam, plantain and gourds. Fish, seafood, chicken and meat are part of the non-veg cuisine. Tamarind and Kokum are used as souring agents although kokum is preferred ingredient. Parotha, irachi stew, sadya, vatteppam (steamed sweet rice flour cakes) are some of the must try foods from the state.
Today's recipe is a simple yet flavorful fish curry. The recipe looks long but it actually isn’t elaborate at all. This is one quick and easy recipe.
Adapted from: I referred to couple of sites and can't remember which site I adapted the recipe from
Total Time: 20 - 25 minutes
Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 - 20 minutes
- 2 ½ tbsp. Oil
- ¼ tsp. Mustard Seeds
- ¼ tsp. Fenugreek Powder
- 6-8 Curry Leaves
- 1 cup chopped Onion (½ cup is coarsely ground)
- 1 tbsp. Ginger Garlic Paste
- 1 tbsp. Coriander Powder
- 1 tbsp. Kashmiri Chili Powder (I used it mostly for the color and it is not spicy. Can substitute it with ½ tbsp. chili powder)
- ½ tbsp. or 1 ½ tsp. Chili Powder (adjust to taste)
- 1 ½ - 2 tsp. Salt (adjust to taste)
- ½ tsp. Turmeric Powder
- ½ tbsp. Tamarind Paste (adjust to taste and I used homemade paste)
- 1 ½ cups Water
- ¼ tsp. Fenugreek Powder ~ Methi Powder
- 0.8 lbs. or 360 grams Fish (I used 1 Whole Bronzini, 1.25 lbs. and after cleaning and head removed, it was 0.8lbs.)
- Grind half the onions to coarse paste.
- Cut the fish to desired size. I used whole Bronzini cut into steaks but any variety of fish fillet can used. If using tilapia or catfish, cut it into desired size. If buying fish steak, can get it cut at the seafood counter at the local grocer. I usually buy whole fish from Whole Foods or Citarella, a local gourmet grocer in the city.
- Heat oil in a skillet or a sauce pan, add mustard and fenugreek seeds.
- When the mustard seeds pop, add 4 curry leaves, chopped onion and sauté for a minute.
- Add onion paste and sauté for another minute.
- Add ginger garlic paste and sauté for couple of minutes or until onion ginger garlic paste is roasted.
- Add coriander powder, chili powders, salt, and turmeric powder mix well. Roast the spices for a few seconds or about a minute.
- Add water, tamarind paste and give it good stir.
- Cover and bring it to a boil and let it boil for minute or two.
- Taste the gravy and add chili powder & salt if required. If the gravy is not tangy enough, add more tamarind paste. Give it a good stir.
- Add fenugreek powder, fish pieces and give it a good stir.
- Cover and cook on medium heat for couple of minutes. Carefully turn the fish around and add remaining curry leaves. If using fish fillets, no need to turn the fish but gently shake the pan. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes are until fish is cooked.
- Turn off the flame and keep the curry covered for at least 10 – 15 minutes for the flavors to seep into the fish.
- Serve with steaming rice. Fish curry tastes even better the next day.
- Kerala fish curry is traditionally cooked in earthenware and from what I read from the blogs, it tastes even better when cooked in an earthen pot.
- Fish steaks have bones in it and one has to be careful when eating it. Also, the fish meat is relative less when compared to the meat from the fillets. If using fish fillets, ⅔ - ¾ lbs. would be ideal for this recipe.
- I made thick gravy and if one prefers thin gravy, add more water or cut back on coriander powder. If adding more water, adjust chili powder and salt accordingly.
- I used Kashmiri chili powder for its color. 1 tbsp. of Kashmiri chili powder can be substituted with ½ tbsp. regular chili powder.