British-Indian food writer, cookbook author and TV chef, Anjum Anand shares two of her favourite dishes (and healthy cooking tips for Indian cuisine) from her latest foodie adventure, Anjum’s Australian Spice Stories, as she tours the country’s spice trail for a 12-part series (turn to page 118 of your May 2017 issue to read more).
Anjum Anand’s Malayali Fish Curry (Episode 5)
“India is two-thirds coastal, so it’s no surprise everyone loves their fish. When I think of coastal food, I think of fish curries and coconut and this one from Kerala is one of my favourites.”
Anjum Anand’s Malayali Fish Curry
- 600g kingklip, cleaned and cut into large pieces, by quartering the fillets
- 2,5ml (½ tsp) turmeric powder
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
- 10g ginger, peeled, grated and the juice squeezed out (with your hands)
- 2 large pinches salt
- 10ml (2 tsp) lemon juice
- 5ml (1 tsp) vegetable oil
- 60ml – 75ml (4 – 5 tbsp) coconut or vegetable oil + 30ml (2 tbsp) oil for fish
- 2,5ml (½ tsp) brown mustard seeds
- pinch fenugreek seeds
- 15 curry leaves (fresh, if possible)
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- salt, to taste
- 30g grated ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 large tomato
- 45g garlic (about 10 – 11 large cloves), peeled
- 2,5ml (½ tsp) ground turmeric
- 10ml (2 tsp) ground coriander
- 7,5ml (1½ tsp) fennel seed powder
- 1,25ml (¼ tsp) red chilli powder (or to taste)
- 5ml (1 tsp) garam masala
- 1 (400ml) tin coconut milk
- 350ml water
- 4 small green chillies, pricked with the tip of a knife
- 22,5ml – 30ml (1½ tbsp – 2 tbsp) white wine/other vinegar
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 50ml coconut cream
Marinate the fish with all of the marinade ingredients, about 20 minutes.
For the sauce, heat the 60ml – 75ml (4 – 5 tbsp) oil in a large non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Add the mustard and fenugreek seeds, and once the popping slows down, add the curry leaves, followed, within 10 seconds, by the onions and a little salt. Cook until soft and golden, 10 minutes. Add the ginger and fry, stirring, about 30 seconds.
While the onion mixture is cooking, blitz the tomato and garlic in a blender until fine. Add to the onion mixture, along with the ground spices. Season to taste and cook until the oil comes out of the masala, about 10 minutes.
Add the coconut milk, 350ml water, green chillies and vinegar, and bring to a boil. Cook for a few minutes, taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
Heat the 30ml (2 tbsp) remaining oil in a non-stick frying pan over high heat and cook the fish for 1 – 2 minutes or until golden but not cooked through. Add the marinated fish and coconut cream to the tomato-onion mixture, and bring back to a gentle simmer. Cook for a few minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
Indian food can be as healthy or as unhealthy as you make it. There are many tempting fried snacks, buttered breads and heavy meat dishes, but also grilled foods served with light chutneys, and steamed and stir-fried dishes. In general, Indian food is very healthy and balanced. At its roots, the Indian culinary philosphy believes in a balanced plate with carbohydrates, protein and vegetables at every meal. Indians also believe in using fresh, regional and seasonal produce, and many of the main ingredients used are considered superfoods here. I find Indian food one of the healthiest cuisines – the biggest problem is stopping! I believe oil is not the enemy – it is how much you use that tips the balance. Also, the food we eat at home is not as rich as it seems compared to restaurant dishes. We don’t add nut pastes and cream to our dishes and food is generally simple and healthy, fresh and fragrant. My starter pack of spices would include all the traditional Indian ingredients – turmeric, coriander, cumin, brown mustard seeds and a good garam masala blend.
Anjum’s Australian Spice Stories on BBC Lifestyle channel 174 from Tuesday 11th April at 9pm