Southern Indian food is often vegetarian, but they often also make use of local seafood, as in this dish, when it is prepared in the traditional manner.
The key to this dish is the tamarind concentrate and coconut milk. I really don’t think there is any substitute for either of these ingredients.
If you have the time, this sauce benefits from a day in the refrigerator. Then you can heat the sauce and add the fish when ready to prepare. Additionally, any leftovers are wonderful when heated up.
Note: If you do not have a spice grinder, you may use pre ground spices.
1.5 lbs Fish, cut into 2 inch chunks. Try to use a firm fleshed fish. Kingfish is traditional.
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
6-7 Curry Leaves
1 large Onion, cut in half and then thinly sliced.
1 tsp Salt
3 long Red Chili Pepper
2 inch piece fresh Ginger Root
3 cloves Garlic
1 Tbsp Chili Powder, ground. I like to use the Korean chili flakes and grind them in my spice grinder. Kashmiri chili powder will work as well.
1 tsp Coriander Seeds, ground in the spice grinder.
1 tsp Turmeric, ground
1/4 tsp Cardamon, ground
1/4 tsp Fenugreek, ground
1 can Coconut Milk
2 Tbsp Tamarind Concentrate
1 cup Vegetable Stock
Juice of one Lime to finish
Begin by slicing your onions and chilies into thin strips. Peel your garlic and ginger root and chop or grind into a fine paste.
Heat your remaining oil in a large sauté pan or a cast iron Dutch oven, such as Le Cruset. Add in your curry leaves and sauté until they change color.
Then add your garlic and ginger, lightly sauté without browning, add your onions and chili peppers and the salt and cook until the onions are soft. Add your ground spices and gently sauté them, being careful not to scorch them.
Add your coconut milk, tamarind concentrate and vegetable or seafood stock and bring to a soft simmer. You can let this simmer for as long as you like, but it\’s even better if it spends a night in the refrigerator and is heated up the next day.
When the thickness is to your liking, add in the fish and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Squeeze on the lime and serve over basmati rice.