South Indian Curry Of Mullet

You Will Need:

  • 80 ml(2½ fl oz/⅓ cup) vegetable oil
  • 1brown onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 60 ml(2 fl oz/¼ cup) tamarind water (see note), plus extra as required
  • 2 tspcaster (superfine) sugar, plus extra as required
  • 400 ml(14 fl oz) tinned coconut milk
  • 2long green chillies, split lengthways, seeds removed
  • 20fresh curry leaves
  • ½ tspblack mustard seeds
  • 400–500 g(14 oz-1 lb 2 oz) whole mullet, filleted, each fillet (about 200 g/7 oz each) cut into 2 large pieces
  • roti, to serve
  • lime wedges, to serve
  • Curry paste
  • 3 cm(1¼ in) piece ginger, peeled
  • 5garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tspchilli powder
  • ½ tspground turmeric
  • pinch of ground fenugreek
  • ½ tspsalt
  • 1 tbspcoriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tspcumin seeds, toasted and ground



To make the curry paste, blend all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. If necessary, add a couple of teaspoons of water to get the paste moving.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a medium-large saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onion and fry for 3 minutes, or until soft and golden. Stir in the curry paste and fry for a few minutes more, still stirring.
Add the tomato, tamarind water and sugar, increase the heat to medium-high, then cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the coconut milk, chillies and 100 ml (3½ fl oz) of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Taste for balance: if the curry needs a little more sourness or sharpness, add a touch more tamarind; if it needs sweetness, add caster sugar  – just a little at a time to avoid over-seasoning.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat until smoking, then add half the curry leaves. Toss for 30 seconds, or until crisp. Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towel to drain for serving. With the pan still on the heat, add the mustard seeds and remaining curry leaves. Fry for 30 seconds, or until the mustard seeds start to pop, then remove the pan from the heat and add these leaves, the seeds and the oil to the curry sauce.
Remove the curry sauce from the heat and add the mullet to the saucepan. Poach off the heat for 1-2 minutes, or until just cooked.
Serve immediately, from the saucepan or a serving bowl. Top with the reserved fried curry leaves, and serve with roti and lime wedges on the side.

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