Fish

Baked halibut

baked halibut
While growing up in coastal India, we always had luxury of getting very fresh fish. Though I don’t miss it much, V misses the Sunday fish lunches very much. So last time when we went to buy fish, I remembered a baked fish which I had seen on TV many times. We came home with Halibut (Please do not ask me what is this fish called in one of Indian languages, I have no idea).

This was the first time we tasted this fish and I just made up the recipe from what I remembered watching on Food Network sometime ago. It came out delicious. I served it with fettuccine pasta with white sauce. It made a nice dinner.

Its mostly a method, not an exact recipe, you can change, mix and match ingredients to suit your taste.

Baked Halibut:
Preheat the oven at 300F for about 10mins.
Take the halibut piece on a parchment paper or silver foil.
Season generously with salt and pepper.
baked halibut1

In a bowl, mix together onion, tomato, chopped garlic, chopped black olives, red pepper flakes, chopped jalapeños, red pepper flakes and little salt.
Pile about 2 tbl spns of mixture on the fish piece. Top with few fresh basil leaves.
baked halibut2

Fold the foil/paper over the fish.
baked halibut3

Bake in the hot oven at 300F for about 30-40mins or till the fish is completely cooked.
baked halibut4
Serve with pasta.

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Grilled Pomfret

grilled pomfret.jpg
As we like fish very much, we try to get as frequently as we can, though most of the weeks that gets confined to Sundays. We hardly find fish of indian variety here. Though we find Pomfret at Indian stores, it will be frrozen one and not fresh from sea. However for the sake of taste buds, I take this, as an acceptable compromise.

There are couple of varieties of preparation, I like to try frequently. Grilled fish is one of them. Among different types, Salmon is one which I tried many times and it has come out perfect.

Ingredients:
1 pomfret (clean and put some deep slits on both sides)
1 tea spn chilli powder
A pinch turmeric
1/2 tea spn garlic
1 tea spn ginger
1/2 tea spn garam masala
1/4 tea spn coriander powder
1/4 tea spn cumin powder
5-6 curry leaves
Lemon juice(about 2 tbl spns)
Salt

Method:
Mix all spice powders, ginger garlic, salt. Add lemon juice to make a paste. Cut the curry leaves into two and add this to the paste(do not make a paste of curry leaves). Apply this to the fish.
Keep it aside atleast for 1hr.
Heat the grill pan and grill the fish till it is cooked.
Serve hot.

Serves : 1-2
Preparation time : 20mins

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Spicy fish (Iswana sukke)

iswana-sukka
V’s grand mother is a very enthusiastic cook. It amazes me to see her interested in cooking even at an age of 85+. Everytime I call her, I ask for V’s favorite recipes. V has loads of childhood memories associated with her, she knows his likes and dislikes.

Few days ago when I had found Spanish mackerel here, she told me to make this dish. She makes this amazing Iswana sukke – king fish in a spicy coconut paste. When I told her I don’t have coconut, she asked me to follow this recipe. It came out very delicious.

Coconut oil gives it a very nice aroma. You can leave it out if you don’t like it, but according to me coconut oil takes this simple dish to a whole new level.

This time I got the fish nicely cut by the Whole foods. So this dish got ready literally in minutes.
iswan-cut

Ingredients:
1 lb (0.45kg) king fish(seer fish/ surmai/ Iswan)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tea spns chilli powder
1/2 tea spn tamarind extract
1 tea spn coriander seeds
A pinch turmeric
1 tea spn chopped ginger
Coconut oil
Salt

Method:
Heat a little oil and fry coriander seeds. Powder them. (Ready made coriander powder gives a very different taste, so make it at home).
Heat coconut oil and add onions, ginger. Fry till the onions turn translucent.
Now add fish, tamarind, salt, coriander powder, chilli powder, 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook till fish is done.
While serving, drizzle some coconut oil on top.

Serves : 3-4
Preparation time : 20mins

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Fish pulav(Iswan pulav)

fish-pulav
I am not sure why this recipe was not on the blog yet. My brother and I absolutely love this fish pulav. My pachi (aayi’s sister) makes a delicious pulav and a fish gravy that goes with it. It was a regular whenever we visited her in Belgaum. A perfectly cooked rice is layered with cooked fish to make a delicious pulav (I think it can even be called biryani). I will post the gravy some other time.

After a very long time, we found some Spanish mackerel (which looks and tastes like our Indian King fish/Seer fish/Surmai/Iswan, I thought both of these are same, but not very sure) in Whole foods. They never used to carry this fish before, but from 2 weeks, they are carrying it. Well, I can’t say how happy I am to see one of our favorite fishes here. We used to get them from Chinese store before, but 80% of the time, it was spoiled. So after a while we stopped going to that store. Now, I am happy that Whole foods is carrying it, so far, I have found that all the fishes that we buy from here are very fresh and good. Though it is bit expensive, I am okay to spend some extra bucks for good food items.

Last week when I bought this Spanish meckeral, two things came to my mind. First was my brother’s masala fry and another was this pulav. It came out very well.

Fish preparation:
1/2 lb (0.22 kgs) fish fillets
A pinch turmeric
1 tea spn chilli powder
2-3 cloves
1″ cinnamon
1 tea spn ginger
1 tea spn garlic
Salt

Method:
Grind ginger-garlic, cloves, cinnamon and apply to fish pieces. Add about 2 cups water and salt. Cook till fish is done.
fish-pulav1
Take out the fish pieces (preserve the water, this is used for cooking rice as it has all spices in it).
fish-pulav2
Remove the skin and bones. Keep aside.
fish-pulav3

Rice preparation:
1 cup basmati rice
1 tea spn ginger(finaly chopped or paste)
1 tea spn garlic (finaly chopped or paste)
1/2 cup chopped onion
Oil
Salt

Method:
Heat oil and fry onion, ginger, garlic. When they turn brownish. Add rice and fry it for few minutes.
Now add the water which was used earlier to cook fish – it is important to use the same water as it has all the spice and flavors. Add salt and if needed add more water and cook it till done.
In a thick bottomed pan, Take 1/3rd of rice, add 1/2 the amount of fish. Then add another 1/3rd of rice, followed by remaining fish and then remaining rice. Close the lid and let it cook for few minutes on medium-low flame. (I keep the pan on a tava, which gives a thick base).
Serve hot.

Serves : 2-3
Preparation time : 45mins

PS: I added some chopped tomatoes after I fried onions. Also, included some coriander-cumin powder while frying onions. I also garnished with coriander leaves.

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Fish masala fry

masala-fry-red1

Shilpa: Here is one of the most awaited recipes from my brother. He and my SIL took these pictures and wrote the post. Here is the recipe in their own words.

Since my visit to Bangalore, the most adored type of fish fry has been masala fry. I tasted it for the first time at a very small restaurant called ‘Kinara’ on Modi hospital road in Bangalore. Though all of my friends were teetotallers, this bar and restaurant always attracted us for its very resonable ‘numbers on right hand side of its menu’. My initial understanding was that this preparation was Kinara’s brainchild. However as I started exploring restaurants of Bangalore, I realized that this preparation is available in most of the Mangalore style restaurants.

Though it was always easy to guess ingredients of this meticulously prepared dish, we could not exactly guess the way it was prepared. It has been nearly 10 years in Bangalore and to whomever I introduced this dish, they have always liked it. This preparation was most of the times served on plintain leaf with thick red coloured spicy paste applied to fish. This gave a wrong direction to our thought process and we tried to prepare it with plantain leaf wrapped, fish being masala cladded.

When we bought microwave we gave a try but in vain. Over last few years, I even enquired at couple of places regarding how without applying rava or without keeping it in oven or in tandoor we can prepare this. My experiments came to happy end when one of the restaurants employee told me this most wanted method of preparing.

That weekend we bought 6 slices of seer fish after buying a special tava to prepare this much ‘haunted’ masala fry. We fried two slices per meal, method being exactly same and changing the masala every time.

Below are three varieties of masala. The proportions are suitable for one large slice of seer fish.

1) Red masala – 1
3 tea spoon chilli powder
1 tea spoon coriander seeds
1/4 tea spoon fenugreek seeds
1/4 tea spoontamarind extract
1 tea spoon chopped ginger
1 tea spoon chopped garlic
1 strand curry leaves(do not grind them but rather just mix in paste)
salt

2) Red masala – 2
3 tea spoon chilli powder
1 pinch turmeric powder
1/4 tea spoon tamarind extract(soak tamarind instead of using readymade extract)
4 cloves of garlic
salt
Above masala is same as the one used for regular rava fry.
masala-fry1masala-fry2

3) Green masala
1 green chillie
6-7 strands of coriander leaves
4-5 leaves of pudina(only if you like the flavour)
1/4 tea spoon tamarind extract(soak tamarind instead of using readymade extract)
4 cloves of garlic
salt

masala-fry3

Above masala is similar as the one used in Goan Cafreal. It is same as used in Green masala fry.

Method:
Apply paste to fish and leave it about 30 minutes for marination. Then pour water to immerse the fish in such a way that at least 1/4 inch of paste should rest on fish. This will work well only with kadai shaped thick bottom tava. If a mixer is used for preparing masala, use the water from that mixer to immerse fish. Water should not be added
during marination. Use high flame initially and low flame to cook till water content evaporates to leave thick paste on fish. There is no need to turn the fish and no need to use oil unlike conventional shallow fry. The main skill involved here is in preparing the paste with adequate amount of water.

The procedure and eventual taste differs from its ‘cousins’  like rava fry, deep fry or tandoori fry. The hardness which comes to fish due to cooking is the indication of completion, remaining paste needs to be left as it is. If required couple of drops of oil may be added and it can be served wrapped in plantain leaf to get distinct flavor.

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Fish in tomato-yogurt gravy

tilapia-gravy
Thanks to all who gave me suggestions about different fishes at my tilapia in spices post. I will be trying them all soon. This is another dish which I have been preparing, lot many times these days. It is inspired by Kerala style fish curry.

Ingredients:
1 cup tomato
1 cup yogurt(curds)
1 tea spn ginger-garlic paste (freshly made)
1 tea spn coriander seeds
2-3 strands coriander leaves
3 cloves
1″ cinnamon
7-8 curry leaves
1/2 tea spn cumin seeds
1/2 tea spn chilli powder
Salt

Fish(Grilled/fried):
1/2 lb(about 0.22kgs) any white fish fillets
1/2 tea spn chilli powder
A pinch turmeric
Salt

If you need more gravy, increase the amount of yogurt and tomato.

Method:
Apply chilli powder, turmeric, salt to the fish and leave it for around 30mins.
Shallow fry the pieces on a tava or grill them on a grill pan (I grilled them) till they are done. Take them on a plate and keep aside.
tilapia-gravy1
Heat a little oil and add cloves, cinnamon, coriander seeds. Powder them.
Heat a little oil in a vessel(kadai) and add cumin seeds. When they pop, add curry leaves, ginger-garlic paste, spice powder and fry for few minutes till the raw smell goes off. Now add chilli powder, yogurt(curds), tomatoes, salt and cook till the tomatoes become mushy and gravy becomes thick. (yogurt separates when you heat it, but that is fine, cook till all the water evaporates).
At this point, I picked up few tomato peels from the gravy and ground them to get a better texture to the gravy.
Now add enough water to bring the gravy to required consistency. Carefully slide in the fish. Cook for couple of minutes. Do not mix too much after adding fish, tilapia is very delicate, it will fall apart if mixed again and again. Garnish with coriander leaves and take off the heat.
tilapia-gravy2

Serves : 2
Preparation time : 20mins

PS: For a better consistency, instead of adding tomatoes and frying them, blanch them in water for few minutes, grind and add.
Do not use yogurt/curd that is very sour.

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Tilapia in spices

tilapia-with-spices
We have been trying to make fish a regular ingredient in our food, primarily due to it’s health-related benefits like rich protein, Omega-3 etc. So far, I have tried tilapia, catfish and salmon. (Those who don’t know about these fishes, please don’t ask for translation as I don’t know). For the first 2 years in US, I din’t have any courage to try any fish here. Whenever we tried any fish dishes in restaurants here, we didn’t get to like them. Coming from coastal India, where we always get very fresh fish, it was a bit of let down.

But finally I took that one step of trying a catfish. We liked it, so next time, we tried salmon. For the first few of times, we really loved it. But it is a very smelly fish, so we don’t like it in any Konkani dishes. Then one fine day, someone told V about tilapia. It does not have any smell at all. After we tried it once, now we are hooked to it. I use it for all Konkani fish curries and it comes pretty good.

This is something I cooked over the weekend. I had one fillet of tilapia left. It was a last minute fix, got ready in 15mins flat. I loved it :).

Ingredients:
1/4 lb tilapia
1 tbl spn coriander seeds
1 tea spn cumin seeds
2 tea spns chilli powder
A pinch turmeric
1 tea spn chopped ginger
1 tea spn chopped garlic
1/4 tea spn tamarind extract
Oil
10-12 curry leaves
Salt

Method:
Roast cumin seeds and coriander seeds.
Make a paste of ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, tamarind, turmeric, chilli powder, salt with very little water.
Heat a little oil and fry the paste till the raw smell goes off. Now add 1/4 cup water, and add tilapia (cut into 2×2 inch pieces). Add the curry leaves cut into two. Cover and cook till done.

Serves : 1-2
Preparation time : 15mins

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Fish Caldinha


This recipe is sent to me by Sheetal. Before any of the people who know this dish bash me for picture of entirely different dish than the authentic “Caldinha” , I request to read my introduction.

Some background of Caldinha in Sheetal’s words – “There is a Goan fish curry which is mostly made by Christians as it is something that came from Portuguese influence. It is called Fish Caldinha pronounced Kaldeen. I had never tasted it in GOA but I learnt it from my Mother-in-law specifically as the Atlantic fishes like Sea Bream or Salmon taste very nice in this gravy. What I like about it is its simplicity. This curry goes very well with these Atlantic fishes as the Atlantic fish are sweet in nature”.

I read the recipe and for some reason, I wanted to try it when I bought the salmon the following week. Even though Sheetal had mentioned it was a gravy dish(which I had overlooked), I interpreted it as a dry side dish. Since I wanted to cook it immediately, instead of clarifying my doubt with her, I just went ahead and tried it. We both absolutely loved the dish. Then the next day I asked Sheetal for clarification. She sent me the pictures of the dish which I have posted below.

I thought I would try it again and then post it here. But because of the “tomato disease” here in US and also some other health issues, I have stopped buying tomatoes. So I decided to post this anyway with whatever pictures I had so that I can refer to the post when I need in future.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup onion finely chopped
1/2 tea spn garlic finely chopped
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1″ stick of cinnamon
1 small green chilli finely chopped.
1/2 tomato finely chopped.
2 small pieces of salmon or a small sea bream or a small Atlantic mackerel or  prawns
1/2 cup freshly made coconut milk(optional)
Oil
Salt

Method:
Apply sea salt to the fish pieces and keep it aside for 15-20mins.
Heat oil and fry onion till they are translucent. Add garlic, green chillies, cinnamon(whole or powder) and fry for a min. Add cumin powder, turmeric, tomato. Fry for a minute and then add the fish. Add a little water, just enough to cook the fish. Add coconut milk(if using) and cook till fish is done. (I just cooked it till all the water was absorbed and fish was done).

Serves : 2
Preparation time : 20min

PS: Adjust the ingredient quantity depending on whether you are making gravy or dry dish.

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Mackerel in dry coconut masala(Bangade dhoddak)

This post was originally published on Sept 12 -2006. I am reposting it with updated pictures which I clicked this time.

This is a dish loved by all the Konkanis who like Mackerel. This dish gets its amazing taste by the method it is prepared. Everybody at our native grows turmeric during monsoon. Basically it is grown for the aromatic turmeric leaves which are used in many traditional dishes. I must admit, some people absolutely hate this aroma. The leaves are even added to milk, while boiling, to give the distinct aroma. If people cannot stand the aroma, they use banana leaves. Few dried leaves are used when fresh ones are not available. That too taste great.

The traditional way of doing it is, spread the leaves in kadai, pour the masala with kokum, tirphal/teppal and fish pieces on the leaves. Then cover the masala with one more layer of leaves. Cover the dish with an plate. Spread some hot charcoal(ingalo) on the plate and cook on a low flame. Most of the time, instead of charcoal, a round ‘sheni‘ – which is a very common combustible material, is used. In this way, the dish gets cooked from both sides and retain the aroma.

Since it was not the season this time, aayi used few dried leaves and few fresh banana leaves for making this. It was out of this world. We ate this dish after a very long time and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ingredients:
10 pieces mackerel(bangde)
1 cup fresh/frozen coconut
10-12 red chillies
1″ piece ginger
A pinch turmeric
2-3 kokum pieces
4-5 teppal
Banana/turmeric leaves
Salt

If kokum is not available, use tamarind. If teppal is not available, this dish can be prepared without it. But the leaves are necessary, if none of the leaves are available, do not attempt to make this dish since you wont get the actual taste of it.

Method:
Grind coconut, turmeric, ginger and red chillies to a very smooth paste (with very little water).
In a heavy bottomed pan or non stick pan, spread banana/turmeric leaves.

Add the masala, slightly crushed teppal, kokum pieces, salt and fish pieces. Mix gently.

Spread banana/turmeric leaves on top.

Cover the lid.

Spread some lighted charcoals on top.

Cook for around 15-20min on a very low flame.

Serve with rice.
(Prepare this dish at least 2-3 hours before serving).

Serves : 4
Preparation time : 30 min

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Fish/Shrimp pickle (Kerala style) and a song

During my Engineering college days at Belgaum, we had a few senior students who were ultimate singers. Even though I don’t call myself as a music lover, I particularly liked the songs of one person. Some of us called him Junior S.P.Balasubramanium(a famous playback singer). After college, I heard from few common friends that he is taking his singing very seriously and working towards a career in it along with his job of software engineer. Since I didn’t know this person personally nor I had any kind of contact with him, I didn’t hear about him for couple of years.

Then one fine day, my husband V told me that he met Sunil Koshy in social networking site orkut. Apparently they knew each other well in college. They had met after a long time. I think V told him about my site and he sent me an email saying he liked it a lot. I can’t say how happy I was to get his feedback. We exchanged a few emails/chats. Well..the irony of whole situation is, I didn’t know he was from Kerala all this time. In the college, the most popular song he sung was “Karunada taayi sada chinmayee“(this is a Kannada song) and I never realized he didn’t know to speak Kannada.

Finally, after his all friends pushed him enough, he has started a music blog. I feel very honored to know such an amazing singer. If you are a music lover, watch out his blog. There are just couple of songs as of now, but he will update it soon.

Here is one song that I absolutely love. We wish him a very bright future. Please leave your feedback here or at his blog, let him know how you like the song. Thanks.

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA


He is a foodie and he said he will bring two of his favorite Kerala dishes for me from his mom. This is the first one he got for me. This is traditionally made with fish(I used catfish here, but I think traditionally it is made with King fish). I tried it many times, first time I made with shrimps and second time I made it with fish. Both were too good. It has become a regular at my home now. I make a big batch of it and refrigerate on weekends. During week days, when I am very tired to cook anything, I love to eat this with curd rice. Yumm…It has a very great aroma of curry leaves and ginger. Give it a try, it tastes great.

Here is the picture of fish version

Ingredients:
1 lb cleaned shrimp or 1 lb fish cut into small pieces
2 tea spns chili powder
1/4 tea spn turmeric powder
2 tea spns + 1/2 tea spn mustard seeds
1/2 tea spn methi(fenugreek) seeds
1/8 tea spn asafoetida powder
2-3 green chilies
1 tbl spn ginger finely chopped
20-25 curry leaves
Oil
1 tbl spn vinegar
Salt

Method:
Apply chili powder, salt and turmeric to the fish/shrimps and keep it aside for about 15-30mins.

Then heat a little oil and fry till they are done. Keep them aside.

Heat a little oil and fry mustard seeds (2 tea spns) and methi seeds. Just before taking out of heat, add asafoetida. Grind them to make a powder.
Heat a little oil and add remaining mustard seeds. When they start popping, add chopped chilies, ginger and curry leaves. Fry for about a minute. (Sunil had mentioned adding chili powder again at this stage, which I ignored because I had already added a lot for marination).
Add the ground powder, vinegar and if required, some salt (be careful while adding salt since the shrimp/fish has it already). Mix and then add shrimp/fish and close the lid (I closed the lid to seal in all the flavors of curry leaves and ginger). After about a 1-2mins, take out the lid, mix well and take off heat.
Cool to room temperature and store in air tight container. It can be consumed immediately. I have refrigerated it upto 2 weeks and the taste went on increasing day by day (I think this remains good for a long time).

Preparation time : 30mins

PS: Make sure all the vessels that are used for making/storing this pickle and the mixer are completely dry. Any moisture spoils the pickle.

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