Monday, July 31, 2017

Andhra Fish Curry

After posting a photograph of me cooking fish curry yesterday, I got a lot of queries for the recipe. Not that people do not know the recipe, but many were intrigued at the colour of the curry ,  a bright red. In fact a friend of mine mistook it as crab curry from the colour of it.  And everyone knows I do not use either artificial or natural colours in the curries. 
The recipe is simple and here it is. 
I personally have a dislike for pond reared fish for two reasons. A discerning cook can easily catch the odor of rice bran , the main feed of pond reared fish, and also the fish are usually just about 2 kgs. 
So I always go for a fish close to 4 or 5 kgs.  They are usually from reservoirs, or rivers and the taste is completely different. The latest market service offering is selling live fish, with double the price. But the taste is priceless. 
All the ingredients given here are for 4 kg fish, which after processing will be about 3 kg if you retain the head as a piece or usually two. So adjust the ingredients accordingly. 

  • Clean the cut pieces of the fish thoroughly twice and once again with turmeric. Keep aside for some time to let the water drain out. 
  • Cut two large onions to small pieces, 4 green chillies either half sliced or to small pieces
  • Add a tea spoon of jeera powder to the onion pieces and mash it well with hand. 
  • Take a large fistful of tamarind and soak in the water. After  a few minutes , squish the tamarind and keep the tamarind water aside. Soak the same tamarind ball again and again and squish till you get 250 to 300 ml of tamarind water. Remove the seeds and other unwanted material from the water.
  • Add two or three tsp of salt, two tsp of red chili powder to the fish pieces, mix them well and let it marinate at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. 
  • Heat an oversized pan, add 4 to 5 tsp of ground nut oil.
  • Saute the mashed onions, chilli pieces, jeera mixture for a few minutes in low flame. 
  • Add three tsp of ginger garlic paste and mix well with the onions while frying for a few seconds. 
  • HERE IS THE SECRET OF GETTING THE BRIGHT RED COLOUR TO THE CURRY. Take 3 to 4 tsp of the floating oil in the jar of the mango pickle. Add to the pan and in seconds the gravy becomes bright red. 
  • Add the fish pieces and mix well with the fried paste. The pieces will glow now with red colour. 
  • Keep mixing for 2 to three minutes till fish pieces emit vapour. Do not mix for long time lest pieces should break. 
  • Add tamarind water till pieces are at least 3/4 ths covered. Simmer it for 10 to 15 minutes with a lid covered fully.
  • Once the gravy is thick, sprinkle 3 tsp of garam masala. Do not stir the pieces with a spoon. Shake well the pan so that masala gets mixed with the gravy . Switch off the heat /burner. 
  • If you want the curry to be redder,  sprinkle one tsp of mango pickle oil on to the dish before you add masala. 
  • Voila , you have the tasty fish gravy curry. 
  • For best taste, let the curry remain in the pan for a few hours. Fish curry tastes best when the pieces marinade in their own gravy. 
  • You can add whole ladies fingers ( I mean vegetable, not your wife's ) , chopped up a little at both ends, sliced vertically an inch or two just five minutes before the heat is turned off. 
  • You can add vertically sliced soar mango pieces a few minutes before the heat is turned off. 
Bon appetit !

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cooking Chicken Without Oil

I was on the path of recovery from Jaundice and the doctor was satisfied with the progress. His only concern was protein content in the body is just about swinging at lower end of the ladder in the mean-max matrix. So he advised me to eat chicken and fish but with a caveat. Just a pinch of salt and not even a drop of oil. The oil part was a tough condition since I tend to add a tad but of more oil in non-veg curries. I thought deeply about a possible solution, working intensely on paper to come to a conclusion on the ingredients and process. If I had worked this hard in my school, I would have understood the Pythagorean theorem. Here is the recipe. I will give the measurements for one KG chicken and you can adjust according to the weight.

Ingredients (Part-1) :

  • one kg chicken cut pieces of medium size. 
  • one Lemon
  • One medium size onion or two small onions
First part of the process:
  •  Wash the chicken pieces in a bowl thoroughly twice. Before second washing add a tsp of turmeric, mix well and wash. Drain the excess water from chicken pieces .
  •  Chop the onions to small pieces and put them in the chicken bowl.
  • Squeeze the juice of the lemon ( 4-5 tbsp) and add to the chicken and onions. Mix all thoroughly.
  • Keep a lid on the chicken bowl and keep aside for one hour. 
Ingredients ( Part-2 ) :
  • Curds 250-300 gms. ( 2-3 coffee cups for rough measurement ) . 
  • For NRIs, a piece of advice. I have no idea if packed yogurt works for this as most of them are sweetened and coloured too.  Then opt for plain yogurt and if unavailable, add 3-4 drops of Tabasco sauce in the yogurt.
  • Salt 2 tsp or to your liking
  • Red Chilli powder 2 tsp or to your liking. 
  • 1 tsp coriander powder ( Dhania)
  • 1 tsp cumin seed powder ( Jeera )
  •  Crushed garlic 5-6 pieces, chopped small ginger piece ( 2tbsp garlic ginger paste )
  • 1 tbsp garam masala powder
  • 4-5 green chilies slit vertically and seeds removed. If you want the curry to be hot , retain seeds in a couple of chilies.  
  • Chop 2 medium sized tomatoes ( Indian size ) to small pieces. Or 3-4 tbsp of tomato puree.
  • For those who want a lot of gravy, add 2-3 tbsp of cashew powder or ground nut powder. If not readily available, fry a handful of ground nuts / cashew nuts on a low flame for 5 minutes and powder them in a mixie.
Mix all the ingredients together just before they are mixed with chicken pieces.

Final Part of the Process :
  • Take a non-stick cooking bowl that is deep and has a lid. A transparent lid will help a  lot. 
  • Pour all the mixed part-2 ingredients on the chicken pieces and mix for a few seconds
  • Transfer the contents to the non-stick bowl and place it on a low flame first and after 5 minutes medium flame.. Water will  seep out from the chicken pieces once the bowl is hot. 
  • Keep a cup of water handy in case the water in the bowl evaporates. In that case add water. 
  • Remove the lid every 5 minutes and stir slowly so that the top pieces go to the bottom and vice versa. 
  • Keep in mind the water will not cover the entire chicken pieces. They get cooked by steam.
  • 25-30 minutes of medium flame cooking and 3-4 gentle stirs will do. 
  • Sprinkle coriander / Rosemary a minute before the bowl is put aside. 
  • Transfer to a serving bowl, relish it and remember me.