Pure-Clay Pot Fish Curry
Even after people of the ancient Southeast Asian culture gradually switched from cooking in clay to metals, they have always cherished cooking their fish in clay this is partly because of a unique nutrient rich ingredient – tamarind, which is at its best only when cooked in clay.
Now we know that metal ions are constantly leaching info food during the cooking process and the amount of leaching varies depends on the ingredients being cooked. Tamarind is one such nutrient rich ingredient that accelerates the leaching to the point that the amount of metals that leach renders the food so bland and tasteless unless more and more other spices are added to compensate. This is why fish curry is still cooked in pure-clay in many parts of the region. This recipe is a classic example of an attestment to the fact that food tastes best when cooked in Clay!
When cooking this recipe in clay, you really don’t need to let the fish marinate and you will also see that the quantity of ingredients used are slightly less than if cooked in metal pot. Recipe will turn out tasting much better.
Goes well with white or brown rice. For this recipe its best to use a pot that’s fully seasoned” i.e. a pot that’s used about 4 – times cooking wet recipes.
2-3 pounds of fish cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces (any firm fish like mackerel, tuna, king fish, or salmon would make a great choice)
4 dry red chilies (you can more if you need it to be spicier)
5 garlic cloves
8-10 curry leaves
Lemon sized lump of tamarind (soak in 2 cups hot water)
1 tbsps. coriander powder, 1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 green chilies (sliced in half)
Salt to taste
2 medium-sized onions ground to a paste
1 large tomato chopped fine
1 tbsps. Cooking oil (e.g.: coconut, sesame seed oil)
Sea Salt to taste
Use a mortar and pestle to pound the dry red chilies and garlic into a coarse paste.
Squeeze the soaked tamarind well to release all the pulp from it. Strain to get thick tamarind juice and discard the pith and seeds.
Mix the red chili + garlic paste and tamarind juice with the coriander and turmeric powders and salt to taste.
Start stove on low, add cooking oil to your pot, wait for a few minutes, increase heat to medium and then add the curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, and green chilies. Sauté for a few minutes.
Add the onion paste. And stir it in with the spices, cover pot and let it cook.
After 5 -7 mins, add the chopped tomato. Stir and mix the ingredients and cook till tomatoes are fully cooked.
Now add the tamarind extract. Cook with lid on till it comes to a low boil or till you see a lot of steam built up in the pot.
Add pepper and cumin powder. Cook for another 5-7 minutes.
Add the fish and cook till done. If stirring, do so gently to avoid breaking the pieces of fish.
Test the salt and now is the time to add more if need be. Turn stove off and leave the lid closed for at least 30-40 mins before serving.
Serve Fish Curry with cooked rice!