On to fish.
Coastal fish curries are heavily influenced by the chilli pepper brought to our shores by evil Europeans. This prawn curry has coconut, too, showing up its connection to SE Asia, more specifically Malaya.
Prawn curry with coconut
1. 1 kg Asian Tiger prawns in shells, or alternatively 500 g shelled prawns from wherever. The prawns do need to be as large as possible, though.
2. 1 or 2 tsp of turmeric (depending upon how much of it you like) and salt
Mix the turmeric and salt and apply onto prawns. Leave for 15 min
3. 1 tsp coriander seeds
4. 1 tsp cumin seeds
Dry cook together in a pan for 2 minutes, and then grind to a fine powder
5. 2 medium onions chopped fine, or ground to paste
6. 2 cloves of garlic chopped fine, or ground to paste
7. 1 inch ginger chopped fine, or ground to paste
Grinding to paste in a grinder releases the flavours the best, but this is just my opinion.
8. 8 whole cloves
9. 1 inch cinnamon stick broken up as small as possible but not ground
10. 4 whole cardamoms opened
11. 1/4 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
12. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
13. 1/2 tsp sugar
In a large saucepan heat 3 tbsp of ghee to smoking (or cooking oil if you can't get this) and cook ingredients nos 5-12 together for a couple of minutes. Next, cook the coriander-cumin powder mix in the same ghee for 2 minutes. Then add the prawns and saute for another 2 minutes.
Next, the coconut. If you can get ground coconut or coconut paste use it made up with water into 2 cups, or alternatively 2 cups of coconut milk into the pan. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Add more red chili or salt at this stage if felt necessary.
Traditional fish curry with mustard
So we say - no to chillies, yes to mustard. I try to collect traditional recipes where I go, but the chili infects everything.
1. 500 g oily fish (e.g. large catfish) cut up into 80-100 g slices - we prefer the man-eating catfish here, but you can use what you get in that family. The larger the fish, the better the flavour.
2. 1 or 2 tsp of turmeric (depending upon how much of it you like) and Salt
Mix the turmeric and salt and apply onto fish pieces. Leave for 15 min.
For the mustard paste
3. 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
4. 1 tbsp red mustard seeds
5. 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
6. 1 tsp vinegar
Grind into a paste
7. 1 medium onion chopped
8. Indian 5-spice 2 tsp - this I could get in desi shops in the UK, should be available everywhere. (Fenugreek seed, nigella seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed and fennel seed in equal parts.)
9. 1 tsp ground black pepper
10. 3 Bay leaves
Heat 3 tbsp mustard oil in a large pan. Other oils can be used but not ghee. Cook ingredients 7-10 until the whole seeds have stopped popping. (If you feel a curry isn't a curry without red chili powder or chopped green chilies you can add it at this stage). Add the mustard paste and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Add the fish, and saute on all sides for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of water, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Adjust salt while cooking.
Both curries are good with steamed rice and ice-cold beer.