My grandmother's fish curry
Orissa, the province that I come from, is a sea-clad region on the eastern coast of India with the most amazing and genuine people ever. Although we didn't always get to live there, it was a tradition to visit my grandparents & relatives during our summer vacations and spend time with them. The topic of summers in India doesn't come with a delightful tone of voice - the temperature lingers over 40 degrees celsius confiding us to indoors. We spent most of our summer holidays playing indoors, occasionally stepping outside, watching TV, eating and sleeping.
In my village, we would also go fishing. My uncles often went into our pond to throw the net as the kids walked around the pond carrying the catch in their tiny buckets. I also really looked forward to visiting Bhubaneswar and meet my grandparents. My grandfather would buy ingredients from the farmer’s market and my grandmother would prepare everything I loved in her kitchen. I received some of her recipes simply by watching her cook, and by occasionally providing a helping hand. She makes some really good food! Now, I am never going to admit who in my family prepares any recipe the best, as the elder ladies in my family are very competitive when it comes to the kitchen, and I cannot risk my future portions of delight by taking any sides!
Although the southern part of India is a peninsula, a considerable inland population consumes fish from rivers, lakes and ponds. The inland catch is often less saline, and thus the smell at the time of cooking isn’t very profound. Coming from a fish eating family, we always managed to find access to sweet water fish, even when we lived along the cost. After moving to The Netherlands, I missed the fish eating aspect of my life in India. It was really hard to find a good and fresh catch in the initial years, and so I could really count the number of times that I prepared any fish in the initial years. That jinx was broken when we moved to Rotterdam! The Blaak green market has a good number of fishmongers every Tuesday and Friday with varieties that is hard to imagine! The catch is fresh, varied, normally priced, and the fishmongers also clean the catch and prepare it as per your requirements. Just cannot complain about where I live ever!!
Time for preparation: 40 minutes
- 700 gm Fish - any type of medium to large sized fish with considerable amount of flesh would do. I usually get them cut into 2 inch width and also use the head of the fish.
- 4 tomatoes, quartered
- 1 red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 inch ginger piece
- 1 raw mango, halved (optional)
- 5 tablespoon turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoon red chilli powder
- 5-6 tablespoon black mustard seeds
- 2 cups water
- 10 tablespoon cooking oil
- Salt to taste
- Clean the fish and marinate with 3 tablespoon turmeric powder and salt to taste for about 15 minutes
- Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and mustard in a blender and grind into a smooth paste
- Take a hot pan and add 5 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil starts smoking, add the fish in batches and fry them until the edges are crisp and the fish is 90% cooked.
- Once the fishes are done, in the same pan, add the remainder of oil. Once the oil heats up, add the onion-ginger-garlic-mustard paste and sauce until oil starts forming a layer on the top.
- Add salt, 2 tablespoons of turmeric, the red chilli powder, mango, and tomatoes and sauce for 5 minutes.
- Add 2-3 cups of water and let the curry cook for 15 minutes
- Add the fish to the curry and cook for another 15 minutes
I love having my fish curry with some steamed rice. I strictly keep the windows and doors of my home open while cooking fish. The smell can be intense for the day after, so good ventilation practices are really necessary, unless one’s kitchen has windows next to the cooking area. Happy munching!