The ever photogenic Chef Sanjin–(Note to TV producers: The chef is a young, lean fellow with a sturdy gaze, quick hands, a good voice, and a ready and confident smile!)–offered yesterday to bring us back into his kitchen.
This time: Meen Curry. (Meen, as most of us know, is the Malayalam word for fish. On an entirely separate note, did you know that “Malayalam” spelled backwards is “Malayalam?”)
We used “king fish,” from the Arabian sea, but any fish will do, especially ocean white, firm fleshed, and thick, like Halibut, Monk, Cod, or Sword.)
Start by making the fish stock: A pot of about two cups of water, a piece of fish you won’t eat (head, tail, back), a few fresh curry leaves, about six dried “kukum (black tamarind), and a 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric powder. Boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes. Set aside.
In a small, deep frying pan (like an Indian wok), heat up four tablespoons of coconut oil. Add 1/2 teaspoon of black mustard seeds. Cook until they start to pop. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek, a teaspoon of chopped garlic, and a teaspoon of chopped ginger. Stir. Add about six tablespoons of cubed onion. Stir for about 10 minutes until the onions darken. Add a teaspoon of chili powderand ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric, two sliced, fresh green chilis, and a few fresh curry leaves. Stir until this turns into a paste. Add one small cubed tomato and a little salt. Stir. Take a strainer and pour the stock through this into the cooking spices. Add two kukum from the stock and 1/2 cup of diluted coconut milk. Cook about three minutes, stirring. Add the fish. Cook to a boil, about five minutes. Add about a 1/2 cup of thick coconut milk and cook and stir another two minutes. Remove from flame and serve.
Folks, this is flavorful! It sounds hard, but it’s not. It’s Keralan cuisine at its finest!