Friday, September 28, 2012

unhurried curry

Since you made the ginger-garlic paste (you did, right?  you stepped away from the computer and plopped the three ingredients into your food processor and pressed the BINGO button, right?), maybe now you want to try that simple fish curry that Punty threw together, which is not exceptionally simple, in that a good number of ingredients and steps are involved, but is not at all difficult, in that the main skills required are stirring and the pressing of buttons.  And the rewards are copious.

Fresh curry leaves are presently available in my local Healthe Foode Shoppe, but can also be mail ordered or purchased in a specialty Indian grocery and frozen in an airtight bag for nearly indefinite storage.  Tamarind paste comes in dry blocks, which I am told is the best quality, but which must be soaked and pounded and strained; you can also buy it in a jar and this ease of use means its a compromise I make with no regrets.  It keeps quite nicely in the fridge for longer than it takes me to use up a jar, which is a good long while.

Ready?  Here you go.

andhra fish curry

3T olive oil
a fat pinch of ground turmeric
1 heaping T of the garlic-ginger paste
a handful of fresh curry leaves
2t brown mustard seed, whole

2 good-sized onions, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/4 c tamarind paste, thinned with a little water
2 heaping teaspoons of ground cumin
2 heaping teaspoons of ground coriander
crushed red chile to taste

3-4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2-3 t salt 

About a pound of shrimp, cleaned, or firm white fish, skinned and cut in chunks, or frankly, potatoes, peeled and boiled until firm tender and quartered, or for that matter probably boneless chicken

First, put the onion into the food processor and pulse/chop until you have a nice puree.  Scrape out into a small bowl and reserve.

In the same food processor bowl, without washing it, puree the tomatoes, and reserve those as well.

In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil and add the turmeric to it.  Let that warm through.  Now add the ginger-garlic paste, and stir that around a minute.  Throw in the mustard seed and the curry leaves.  Stir.  Now dump the onion puree in, and stir and cook and stir and cook and stir and cook (it is helpful to have something not very absorbing to think about, or someone charming to talk with as you do this).  You want it lightly brown, and you want to take your time about it.  As it begins to brown, it will begin to stick, and then you dribble in a little water to keep things moving nicely.  Take 15 minutes or so for this.  You are building up some serious flavor.  The whole trick is in this stage--taking your time with it and letting it brown slooowly.

Now add the other spices (cumin, coriander, chile) and let them warm through, and then stir in the tamarind paste-water mixture and the salt, followed after a few stirs by the tomato puree.  Simmer it for several minutes to let it thicken and mingle.  You can stop at this point and set it aside and it will only improve.  You can also press onward, and add the protein of your choice or potatoes and let them cook in the sauce and really soak up the flavors. 

Serve it over rice.  Punty says you should lightly stir-fry some baby bok choy in oil with a pinch of salt and red chile flakes to serve on the side, and I am not one to argue with her.


  1. Yes. Yes, I do want to make this. Now. Also, have I mentioned that your "About Me" section is my favorite? Ever?

  2. Sigh. Tamarind paste! Eleven years ago a friend of mine made me a curry that contained tamarind paste and it's still on my list of Most Amazing Meals. Must find the elusive tamarind and try to make that magically sour, not sour, sweet, not too sweet thing happen again. Thank you for the link!

  3. Wow! This is just what I needed! Thanks :)

  4. I have been wanting to try this recipe since you posted it. Punty's cooking is legend. I found all the ingredients and made it tonight, Wow! Thank you for this recipe! Please please if you have any more Punty recipes up your sleeve, I will not wait a month before putting it into rotation! It had such a tart pucker and complex seasoning but still tasted incredibly fresh.


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