This fish curry reminds me of my Ammachi (Grandmother) and my ancestoral home in Cherthala. Cherthala is a small coastal town in Alleppy District ,Kerala which is blessed with coconut trees,backwaters and lots of fishes.
Enjoy more pictures of Cherthala here.
We used to get fresh water fishes in abundance there ,and so the fish deliccacies were always prepared with Karimeen aka Pearl Spot only.My Ammachi used to prepare wide variety of dishes with Karimeen,and this is just one among them.
(The above pictures are taken during my last visit to India-curry prepared by my Ammachi using Pomfret)
But now,Karimeen is in high demand and is one of the most pricy fish in Kerala.It is difficult to get fresh Karimeeens like it was before,and even if we could find some,it would be rather expensive and we cannot afford to have it for everyday meals.So we are forced to swallow our pride, and start enjoying many Karimeen deliccacies with other fishes like Pomfret(Aavoli),King fish(Neymeen) etc.And here in U.S i’ve come down furthur and prepared this with even Tilapia fillets.
Here goes my grandma’s recipe of Karimeen Vaatti Pattichathu (with Tilapia)…..
Fish cut into small pieces – 1/2 kg
(If using Karimeen,cut each fish into 2 or 3 pieces depending on the size of fish)
Shallots (kunjulli) – 2 cups
Ginger – 1 tbsp
Garlic – 3 big cloves
Green Chillies – 4 or 5
Chilly Flakes (Unakka mulaku chathachathu)-1 tsp
Gamboge(Kodam puli ) – 3
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Thin coconut milk – 1 cup
Thick coconut milk – 1/4 cup
(If using canned milk,always dilute it by adding enough water,for both thin and thick milk)
Curry leaves – 1 or 2 sprigs
Coconut Oil – for sauteing + 1 tsp for garnishing(Optional)
Salt – to taste
Soak KudamPuli in 1/4 cup of salt water and keep aside.Crush shallots,ginger,garlic and green chillies together and keep it aside too.
Heat coconut oil in a pan preferrably in a Manchatti,add half of the curry leaves and crushed ingredients along with chilly flakes,saute it for 2-3 minutes in medium heat.Do not let the shallots brown.Stir in turmeric powder and mix everything together.
Now add the kudampuli along with the water ,stir and let it boil.Gently arrange the fish pieces on the bottom of the pan and pour in the thin coconut milk.
Cover it with a lid and let the fish cook in the coconut milk.When it is done,add thick coconut milk,gently mix it and switch off the stove.Add rest of the curry leaves and 1 tsp coconut oil to garnish.Cover and keep it undisturbed for half an hour.Serve with rice/roti.
(This is prepared by me using Tilapia fillets.By looking at the picture itself you could make out that my version pales in comparison .)
Note :- You can completely avoid coconut milk and prepare this in water too.It goes well with rice.