Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fish in Coconut gravy

The man on a black ferry (vallom, vanji) would paddle by my grand parent’s home to sell fish. I am talking about 1980’s. I used to love running all the way to the river bare footed, straight out of bed, with tousled hair and a puffy morning face to watch the spectacular display of fish on his boat. He would have some sea and fresh water fish. Sardines and mackerel from the sea and a myriad of fresh water ones. Of course, he would be carrying only a few varieties at a time but would bring something different every day.

There would be some haggling for the prize and then ‘mamachi’(that’s what I called my maternal grandmother) would settle for some prize and she we would walk back with her earthern shallow pot (chatty) brimming with fish and an excited me bobbing up and down beside her. I still remember her chattayum mundum with the fan gathered behind the way this is worn. The smell of her crisp, white, lightly starched, sun dried clothes is still fresh in my memory. She had peppered hair gathered back in a bun and wore a beautiful rosette designed earrings studded with crystals and long gold chain with a prominent cross sign.  She would tell me whever I fiddled with her earrings or kept looking at them admiring that I can have it when she is gone.  I am her eldest grand daughter and I own the earrings now.

   We would sit outside on the pebbled courtyard with the fish, to clean them. She on a low stool (called korandi) and me squatting close by listening to her stories and closely watching her trim the fins and tail dexterously off the fish and lay them into a clean pot nearby. There would be a whole lot of cleaning rubbing it on stone and then twirling it around in the pot with rock salt until she was satisfied. Karthiyani (her help) would quickly grind this peach colored coconut gravy on the stone swaying her whole body forward and backward. Her grinding style was a joke because only she moves like that with the stone all the others learned the trick of holding the body still and just moving your hands to get the job done.

  Fish in coconut gravy

Anyways, today I have the fish fillets, store bought grated coconut which my grinder will help me blend in no time to cook the same curry. I am thankful for the conveniences but the memories of those days and the taste of evenly ground coconut can never be replicated. Or maybe it’s my grand mother’s love that I am missing. On days when I feel home sick I pick up the phone, call my mom or aunt, figure out some old recipes and concoct them and feel instantly at home. Here is a simple yet delicious fish curry my family makes mostly with fresh water fish but now we use all kinds. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

A dried fruit I have used,kudampuli(Gambooge- Garcinia gummi-gutta), gives the sourness to the curry. Please click on the link to read more about it. The tartness the kudampuli lends is what makes this dish stand apart from similar dishes made with tamarind or tomato. I have no words to describe the taste but just say if you like coconut gravy chances are you will enjoy this too.

  I couldn't help but get carried away with my memories talking about this fish curry.  Click on the links to see pictures of the vallom and chatta and mundu if you do not know what I am talking about.  Also, the curry is not peach in color because I forgot to add chilli powder while grinding the coconut.

Ingredients:

Tilapia Fish fillet    - 4
Coconut               -  1 cup
Water                  - 1/2 cup
Red chilli powder - 1 tspn
Green Chillies      - 4 nos
Ginger                 - 1/2 Tbspn
kudampuli               - 2 pieces washed and soaked in 1/4 cup water
Garlic                  - 1 - 2 pods optional
Curry Leaves      - 1 sprig
Salt                     - to taste
Fish in coconut gravy
Method:

1. Cut the fish fillet in two
2. Grind chilli powder, turmeric, garlic and coconut to a fine paste
3. Mix the fish and all the other ingredients together and cook on medium high heat to bring to a boil and then simmer on low till fish is cooked

Notes:  You may grind the ginger to a paste as well I prefer to have it in pieces
2. You may do a tempering with coconut oil or oil of preference with mustard, shallots, dry red chilly and curry leaves
3. You could use kokum instead of "kudampuli", they have similar taste, being from the same family.

Contributor: Sunitha

35 comments:

  1. It looks so tempting, i love the combination of giner and garlic in fish curry. Would love to have it with some hot rice.

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  2. yummy...I love the fish curries in coconut...this is very similar to the goan curry..hey..the kudampalli is new..is it the kokum?

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  3. wow - looks yummy! Love the color of the fish!

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  4. I must buy Tilapia and try this. Looks so good. Great to read about your childhood, makes me nostalgic! :)

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  5. I love your story behind your grandmother's recipe. And I really like the spice mix used here, as well. Tilapia is a great fish to use in so many recipes.

    Many thanks for sharing your memories & this recipe...

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  6. OMG...what a nostalgic story! You brought everything to my mind by your words:) The scene of meenkarar (fish selling person) and granny buying them are just fantastic. I too admire buying the fish in the streets in my home town. Btw, where did you get the kodumpuli? pls lemme know dear:) Fish curry looks classic.

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  7. Fish curry looks colourful...:))

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  8. great pic and the curry looks absolutely smashing

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  9. Wow its has been a long i used kodumpuli...looks fantastic and tempting fish curry..

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  10. Your post reminded me of times spent in my maternal grandmother's kitchen, watching her cook, and make pastes on her heavy, grindstone. So, true ... that taste can never be replicated. Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories, and this wonderfully-delicious recipe!

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  11. What would we do without food memories. Elegantly simple, describes this preparation.

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  12. Looks so creamy. Perfect with some hot rice.

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  13. The way you combine fish and coconut is really new for me, I'm curious about that strange but delicious taste!!! In italy we cook fish only with few and simple indredients like olive oil and oregano...coconut is not part of our culture and that stimulate my curiosity of trying it!!!

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  14. Some nice childhood memories you have got here :) Any gravies made in earthen vessels always taste good, it has been a long time since I tasted my grandma's fish gravy...your fish curry sounds and looks awesome :)

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  15. i haven't tried coconut based gravy yet, but will try soon, yours look superyummy

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  16. loved ur story... really brought back memories of back home... Curry looks great... I am sure it would have tasted great too..

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  17. Hi, A new way to cook fish curry. My hubby is crazy over fish curries, By the way what kind of fish do you normally use when making fish, because some are good for ones with dry curries and some more suitable for more gravy kind.

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  18. kudam puli itta meen curry kothipikkunnai!!!

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  19. love this recipe! I always thought tilapia was a very under-appreciated fish.. its so unique in its flavors and lends beautifully to Indian spices.

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  20. Beautiful memories! Who are those in photo? Relations.
    Lovely pictures and delicious fish curry! Keep rocking.

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  21. Sounds very flavorful with all the spices here!

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  22. loved the colour and click, Easy and delicious fish curry

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  23. How much a single dish can carry such a fond memories in everyone life! You should be proud owning her ear ring :)
    Such a delicious and flavorful fish curry!

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  24. adipoli curry..while reading your story njan engane imagine cheyyayirunnu..grannys side irikunathum okke..100 questions undakum chodhikan alle..kure parayn undu..comment valuthayipokum
    and 1 thing the name karthiyani. not the person .my MIL's name..

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  25. I simply enjoyed reading your childhood anecdotes, so soothing to think of the good old days with my proper grandma !!!

    your curry looks delightful, I have always loved the puli/coconut combination, it adds a remarkable taste to the curries!!! nice post!!

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  26. Fish curry looks delicious! I would love to use kokum for this.I think taste will not differ much.

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  27. delicious fish curry...wud b perfect with hot rice or kappa!..

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  28. I was pretty sure that regular gravy couldn't be beat for it's deliciousness, but I think this coconut version just about takes the cake. Amazing!

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  29. beautiful writing in this post!...

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  30. Iyoooo kothi vanittu vayya...Ithu muzhuvan ingu edukkan thonunnu...Adipoli ayitundu....Beautiful clicks too dear...

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  31. Wow.... lovely presentation. Fish curry looks yummy and nice color.

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  32. hey sunita this fish curry luks yummy...nice recipe in coconut milk, vl try once, we here in goa add coconut milk to ground gravy of coconut and spices and turmeric...vl try this one now...thnx for sharing

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  33. This looks like a great recipe. I've never tried fish curry, it looks yummy!

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  34. looks really good... we make similar curry either using grated coconut or coconut milk....

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