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Goan Fish Curry

(recipe, Anjum Anand)


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Introduction

There are so many types of fish curries in Goa, and this is one of the most popular ones. It delivers everything a curry should — layers of flavor, depth, tartness, and a hint of sweetness from the onion and coconut. It is delicious and beautiful and lends itself to a variety of seafood and not just fish — try making it with shrimp, mussels, clams, or squid, if you wish. I sometimes add green chiles at the end for the added pungency and also for color, but you can leave them out. While on the subject of chiles, most Indian stores sell packets of dried red chiles from different regions of India, each with different heat. Ask them for something mild — I often opt for chiles from Kashmir, but can personally take even medium-heat chiles in this quantity. If you know you can't take the heat, you can add some red chile powder to taste towards the end of cooking or a little paprika powder to mimic that beautiful peachy-red color.

Ingredients

  1. 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  2. 1 tsp. brown mustard seeds
  3. 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  4. A 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
  5. A ¾-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  6. 7 large garlic cloves, peeled
  7. 1 to 3 mild dried red chiles, soaked for 20 to 30 minutes to soften
  8. 1 tsp. ground cumin
  9. 2 tsp. ground coriander
  10. ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  11. ½ tsp. garam masala
  12. 2 medium tomatoes, puréed
  13. 1⅔ cups coconut milk
  14. 1 lb. firm white fish fillets, cut into large cubes
  15. Salt, to taste, and lots of freshly ground black pepper

Steps

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and, once they are popping, turn the heat down and add the onion and cinnamon. Cook the onion until golden, around 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, using a blender, make a fine paste of the ginger, garlic, and chiles with 3 tablespoons water. Add this to the cooked onions along with the powdered spices. Cook until reduced, then fry over low heat for 2 minutes or until the oil is released. Add the tomatoes and another ½ cup water; cook until completely reduced. Fry the paste for 4 to 5 minutes or until the oil comes out on top.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and ⅔ cup water, bring to a gentle simmer, and allow the flavors to marry and develop for 5 minutes. Add the fish and cook until done, around 4 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, then serve.