Granny’s Fish Curry

This afternoon Mangy and I were craving Granny’s fish curry, a quick phone call to Singapore, and I had her recipe in hand. We bought some Yellowtail King fish, but Spanish Mackerel would do nicely as well. If you don’t enjoy fish, substitute the fish for some hard boiled eggs, or leave it out altogether and add more eggplant instead.

This recipe needs Fish Curry powder. Meat and Fish Curry powders are staples in every Singaporean South Indian household. It’s not a premix, but more like a garam masala. The blend for fish has a slight different combination of spices than the one for meat. But the powders cannot be used on their own to make curry, you need to use them just as you would use garam masala.

The brand we use in our family is the Baba’s range. They’re a company based in Malaysia. In Australia, the Masala powders are not usually available in Indian grocery stores. You’ll find them in Asian stores that specialise in Singaporean or Malaysian groceries.

You’ll need:

  • 400 grams fish – cut into 2 inch pieces (we used Yellowtail King fish fillet)
  • Pinch of Turmeric Powder
  • 1 cup of either french shallots or red spanish onions (or a combination) – peeled
  • 3 cloves of garlic – peeled
  • 1 large tomato or 3/4 canned diced tomato
  • 1 cup of eggplant / brinjal – sliced into fingers
  • Pinch of fenugreek seeds
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of roasted red chilli powder
  • 1 heaped teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 heaped tablespoons fish curry powder
  • 1/2 cup of tamarind juice (or more to taste)
  • Water
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh coriander – chopped finely

Method:

  1. sprinkle turmeric on the fish, coat lightly and then rinse the fish. This will wash off any fishiness.
  2. heat oil in a pan, add eggplant, and cook until 3/4 done (you might need to add more oil as you go as the eggplant will soak it all up)
  3. while eggplant is cooking, finely chop onion and garlic in a food processor
  4. once eggplant is done, add the onion and garlic mixture, and cook well.
  5. when the onion is translucent, push the mixture aside, add a little more oil into the middle of the pan, drop the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves into the hot oil.
  6. when you hear the seeds pop, stir this into the rest of the mixture
  7. add tomatoes, stir well – cook for about a minute, keep stirring
  8. add coriander powder, roasted red chilli powder and fish curry powder – stir well, cook for 3 to 4 minutes – keep stirring
  9. add about 2 cups of water, stir well, bring to the boil and then switch off the stove (you don’t want to cook tamarind for too long)
  10. add tamarind juice and salt and taste the mixture – make sure it’s tart enough, this is really a personal choice. You can have it as sour as tom yum, or milder. I like it to have a bit of a bite, but not too much
  11. once you’re happy with the taste, turn the stove on again, and bring to the boil
  12. when you see the first bubbles, place the fish in a single layer into the curry mix, if it’s too thick, add a little more water. Put the lid back and cook on a low flame until the fish is cooked through
  13. gentle stir through the fresh coriander, and serve with hot rice.
  14. Enjoy!

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