At I Heart Cooking Clubs, our theme this week is "Comforting Curries" - to be even more precise, a curry from the Queen of Indian food, Madhur Jaffrey.
When spring temperatures plummeted yesterday to the extent that merino sweaters had to be dragged out of the mothballs again, and I returned from the market cold and wet (yes, chilly temperatures were accompanied by teeming rain), a curry seemed like the perfect warm-me-up-pick-me-up kind of dinner.
A quick online search and I came up with Madhur Jaffrey's recipe for "Boatmans Curry". As soon as I noticed that one of the ingredients was tamarind paste (one of my favourite flavours), I knew this was the dish. I happened to have everything on hand that I needed, barring the fish, so after a quick trip down to the fishmonger I was good to go.
I don't mind a moderate amount of heat to my curries, but the same cannot be said for everyone else in my household. So, I've adjusted Madhur's recipe quite a bit to really dial down the heat factor. So much so, I was actually a little worried that I would find it a bit bland for my taste. As it turned out, there is so much other flavour going on that it totally didn't need the extra heat. I also made a couple of other little changes to the preparation, firstly because I didn't have fresh coconut, and also mincing my shallots up with the garlic and ginger, rather than keeping the onion separate, just because I prefer it that way. What follows, is my version of the recipe. Follow the link above if you want Madhur's original version with full throttle heat.
Fish Curry Recipe
Adapted from recipe for Boatman's Curry by Madhur Jaffrey
Makes 3 generous servings
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
For the spice paste:
1 teaspoon chilli paste
1 tablespoon paprika
3 tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1-1/4 cups long thread coconut
3/4 cup hot water
For the tamarind paste:
2-1/2 tablespoons tamarind paste
1x green chilli, seeds removed
2.5cm (1 inch) piece ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
2x cloves garlic, peeled & quartered
4x shallots, peeled & quartered
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon oil (neutral flavour)
1/2 cup water
500g firm fleshed white fish, cut into large chunks
(I used trevally)
fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
Begin with the spice paste. Put coconut threads into a bowl and pour over the hot water. Allow to soak for about 30 minutes to soften the coconut. Then place coconut, and soaking liquid, along with all the other ingredients into a blender, and blitz until you have a smooth paste. Remove from blender to a small bowl and set aside.
Now on to the tamarind paste. Put all the ingredients into the blender, and again blitz until you have a smooth paste.
Heat oil in a medium sized, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add spice paste to the pan, along with the 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for a couple of minutes. Now add the tamarind paste to the pan, stir to combine, and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Add the fish pieces to the pan, stir, and simmer until the fish is cooked through - about 8 to 10 minutes. Add a little more water during the cooking process if you find the gravy is too thick.
Serve with plain basmati rice, and sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander.
I also served with with some raita and my recently made apple, plum and peach chutney.
Once we'd finished, I still had quite a bit of the gravy left over. Don't be tempted to throw that away. I reheated the leftover gravy today for lunch, adding some hard boiled eggs, for an instant egg curry. As it turned out, this curry worked perfectly with the eggs, so that would be a great substitution for the fish if you happen to be vegetarian.
If you would like to get to know Madhur a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...
... or check out Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking and many of Madhur's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.