Spicy tilapia curry

Spicy tilapia curry


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Nothing makes me feel more at home than a good old spicy fish curry. Normally I would pick fish like Bombay Duck or the white Pompfret which are available in abundance in Mumbai, but the frozen fish which I buy from Indian stores here just doesn’t have the same fresh taste. So I turn to the great variety of fresh fish available to us in Britain which leaves one spoilt for choice. I am quite a fan of lemon sole, sea bass, haddock and of course salmon. But for this curry I use Tilapia, a white fleshy fish, which is not only a really tasty fish, but it takes to Indian marinades very nicely.

The use of freshly grated coconut in our curries is a very coastal thing because coconut trees are plentiful in the gorgeous coasts of Konkan. Besides being a gravy thickening agent fresh coconut combined with slightly roasted red onion gives a very rich, creamy and good base for a fish curry. In case you do not have access to freshly grated coconut, a pouch of the condensed coconut milk from Pataks does the trick or even a quarter of a can of coconut milk will work. The difference is that grated fresh coconut makes a very thick and tasty puree whereas a pouch or can will give a milky base somewhat like a Thai curry. The trick is to balance the alternative ingredient with the right amount of spice or heat to get just the right taste.

This simple and delicious fish curry is part of our staple diet and we have it at least twice a week back home. I always store some of the green marinade and the coconut and onion paste in the freezer and save for the day when I really crave the taste of Mum’s traditional fish curry.

Remove the heads of the fish at the fish counter and make the fillets at home. Wash thoroughly and marinate with 1 heaped tsp red chilli powder, 1 heaped tsp turmeric, salt to taste, green marinade and set aside for at least 40 minutes
Toast the finely chopped red onion in a pan and then give it a spin in the food processor with the freshly grated coconut, add very little water to allow it spin easily. Grind to make a smooth fine paste
In a large saucepan, heat the oil and add a pinch of asafoetida
Now add 2 cloves of garlic with skin on to the oil and as the garlic turns a toasty brown, then add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder and then add the coconut and onion paste and continuously stir it for 2 – 3 minutes, then add enough water to make it the consistency of a gravy and cover with a lid and let it cook for at least 7 – 8 minutes on a low flame
Then add the marinated fish and cook it in this gravy. It takes about 5 – 7 minutes as the fish cooks quickly
Serve the fish with steaming boiled white rice
Serve the fish with steaming boiled white rice
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