Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fish Vindaloo (or Fish Preserve)

This is an unusual fish curry recipe, unusual for Kerala, that is, but is very much a true-blue, authentic one, from Cannanore. It used to make a regular appearance on my grandmother's (dad's mom) dinner table, whenever she bought a particular type of fish called "mulluvaala" in Malayalam. I don't know the English name for this fish (if anyone can help on this one, please comment or email me!), but it's an extremely bony one, which is why this method of cooking is perfect for it, as it makes the bones soft, mushy, and chewable. You can make this with any other small, bony fish-I like to use sardines.

This is one of those recipes that nobody knows what the name is, but when my grandma used to make it, I used to be reminded of the pork vindaloo preparations, maybe because of the vinegary flavor to it-so I just named it Fish Vindaloo! I got this recipe from my dad's sister, Kanchana aunty, who used to make it often. This sometimes reminds me of the taste of tinned fish in tomato sauce-it's delicious, very easy to prepare, and keeps well for a few days (if there happen to be leftovers, that is!).

This is a recipe you should try at least once-even if you're skeptical about it!

I'm going to list out the exact, original recipe here. I normally cook it with half the quantity of fish, so naturally, use half the quantity of all the other ingredients.

      Serves 6
  1. 50 nos. sardines (about 2 kilos), washed and cleaned, topped and tailed
  2. 2-inch piece of ginger, julienned
  3. 3 pods garlic
  4. 4 green chillies, slit
  5. 1 large onion, chopped fine
  6. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  7. 1 to 2 tablespoons chilli powder
  8. 1 cup vegetable oil (preferably coconut oil for the authentic taste)
  9. 1 cup tomato ketchup
  10. 1 cup vinegar (reduce this if you want it less tangy)
  11. 1 sprig curry leaves
  12. Salt to taste
  • Now comes the unbelievable part-Just add all the above ingredients into a pressure cooker, mix well, close the cooker and after the first whistle, simmer for 45 minutes-not less and not more!
  • Take off the flame after the 45 minutes is up, wait for the cooker to cool, then open and transfer to a serving dish.
Serve hot with rotis, cooked tapioca (kappa), rice, or bread.

Even if you're halving the quantity of fish (and the other ingredients), stick to the 45-minute cooking time.
I have only tried this with sardines, so I don't really know if there are other fish (other than "mulluvaala") that could be suitable for this.
If you are using any other bony fish (like "mulluvaala") which has harder bones, then add half cup of water to the mix.
If you want it less sweet and more spicy, use tomato chilli sauce instead.

Can also be used as a sandwich filling, if you mash the fish afterwards.
Can be used as a preserve-will keep for several months in the refrigerator.

(Most of these tips courtesy Vrindechi, another exponent of this curry!)


Emreen said...

Wow!This is an unusual preparation indeed.... And its sooo easy to make.... I always like the sliced mangoes ,potatoes,kappa added with fish curry....Guess it be suitable for this recipe too...

Kary said...

@Em: You mean having this with kappa? Never thought about that, but now that you've suggested it, I think it would be a great idea!

vrindhagiri said...

That's a wonderful idea, to have this with Kappa. I wonder why we never thought about it. Btw, karishma when I make it,( I've tried only sardines... I do not add water ). Kanchuechi was telling me about the Mulluvalla , been wanting to try it,it must be really yummy.

To all Fish lovers, please try this out it's amazing.

Karishma said...

Thanks, vrindechi!

Emreen said...

yep ! fish curry with kappa s a great heaven-like combination.. !!! - I would call that the signature dish of kerala... !!!