Woodfired South Indian Fish Curry
Our Woodfired South Indian Fish Curry is inspired by our travels in India. Travelling is a great way for us of finding out about a culture, its food, its people and its history. This is because it really brings the whole thing to life. We visited many spice markets, merchants and farms in Rajasthan and Kerala and learnt lots from the merchants and farmers. Also we saw a lots of cooking being done over fire outdoors. Women would often cook on their home’s rooftop with amazing views like the ones overlooking the lake in Udaipur or over the plains from the top of the hill fort in Chittorgarh. Just stunning!
Breads, veggies, meat and fish were all cooked outdoors so we now love cooking Indian food in our wood fired ovens at home. The smokiness the food picks up from the oven goes really well with the spices. The smokey flavour also acts as a good contrast to this sweet and aromatic coconut sauce. We cook the spice mix in the coconut sauce but the mustard seeds and curry leaves are fried at the end to add new fragrances and flavours. This is the tadka and really adds a zing to your woodfired South Indian fish curry.
One thing we learnt was to keep your spices fresh. We were told over and over to change dried powdered spices every 3 months and whole dried spices every year. This is because spices lose their flavour so quickly. Indeed if you have had your spices on your kitchen wall for a couple of decades, they are probably no more than brown powder. Consequently just chuck them out and liven up your cooking with new ones! This can prove expensive if you buy from a supermarket. However if you buy little and often from a spice merchant, an Asian food store or somewhere like Pepper’s World Foods in Dartmouth then it works out much more cheaply.
Woodfired South Indian Fish Curry Recipe
Serves 4-6 as a main course
1tbsp coriander seeds
1tsp cumin seeds
8 dried red Kashmiri chillies
2 star anise
1tsp ground turmeric
2tbsp sunflower oil
1 large red onion, peeled and very finely chopped
2 large ripe tomatoes
400ml/14 fl oz tin coconut milk
3 fresh green chillies
400g cod fillet, skinned and cut into 2.5cm cubes
200g raw, shelled Tiger prawns (defrosted if frozen)
10 dried curry leaves
1tbsp brown mustard seeds
Salt and pepper
Woodfired South Indian Fish Curry Method
2-3 Mississippi, small fire burning; door off
- First of all, heat a frying pan in the oven and dry fry the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, Kashmiri chillies, cloves and star anise. Toast them until they start smelling aromatic due to the heat. Take them out of the pan at once and grind them to a powder in a pestle and mortar or an electric blender. Stir in the ground turmeric.
- Heat a large pan in the oven and when it’s hot add half the sunflower oil. Add the chopped red onion with a good pinch of salt and pepper and soften it in the oven for 3-4 minutes.
- While the onion is cooking, quarter the tomatoes and take out the seeds. Whizz to a pulp with an electric hand blender or chop very finely with a sharp knife.
- Stir the ground spice mixture into the softened onions and cook in the oven for a minute or so until the mixture starts to smell fragrant.
- Stir in the tomatoes and cook for another minute before adding the coconut milk and the green chillies. Bring to the boil in the oven, stirring from time to time, and reduce the amount of liquid by one third.
- Add the cubed cod and prawns (you can use other fish such as monkfish, salmon, hake, pollack,mackerel) and put the pan back in the oven to gently cook the fish; this will take about 4-5 minutes.
- While the fish is cooking, heat the rest of the oil in a small frying pan. When it’s hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Put the pan back in the oven and when the spices start to pop, take the pan out of the oven and spoon over the woodfired South Indian fish curry.
- Finally serve the curry with some plain rice and a squeeze of lime juice.
In terms of what to drink with a curry, we like a chilled light beer or a local dry Devon cider. Our friends at Michael Sutton’s Cellars have just recommended a dark rosé wine. Their Tariquet rosé has a lot of fruit and a hint of spice and as a result, stands up to a curry sauce. Delicious served refreshingly cold.
In conclusion, we really hope you enjoy our Woodfired South Indian Fish Curry recipe and the video – do let us know how you get on. We’d love to hear your results. Remember spices and woodfired flavours are a perfect combination – a real winner!
See you next week. Holly and David.