Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fish Preserve Cannanore/Kannur Style

This is a recipe I've posted before, but I'm re-posting it here because I felt it was a unique recipe that was in danger of being forgotten by many in Kerala, especially those of you in the Cannanore/Kannur region. My grandmother, grandaunts, aunts, mother, all used to make and still cook this dish, and so do my cousins and I, but many people in the North Malabar region itself are unaware of this, which is a pity because this is truly a different and delicious way to prepare that all time Kerala favorite-fish!

This is also my entry to the blog event Kerala Kitchen, started by the lovely Magpie's Recipes, which is being hosted this month by the talented food blogger/stylist/photographer (a Kannur gal!) Ria of Ria's Collections.

This is an unusual fish curry recipe, unusual for Kerala, that is, but 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! 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.

PS: At the Kerala Kitchen event roundup, this dish won in the "Best Dish" category for the "innovative method of making fish preserve using a pressurecooker"!


Biny Anoop said...

very brave of u to pressurec ook fish kary....but it surely look great

Torviewtoronto said...

first time in your yummy site we make like this with tin fish for a quick curry and for filling looks worderful

Ria Mathew said...

Hi Karishma,thank you for sending in the entry for KK. Happy to meet you in this wide wide foodie world! :)

Thanks for the kind words :)

Tanvi@Sinfully Spicy said...

I have heard of fish preserving and fish pickles a lot but never seen a recipe.Thanks for sharing this one.Very informative post.

Katerina said...

This is one beautiful recipe Karishma and the fact that you give also the story behind it and the customs makes it even more interesting.

Biny Anoop said...

there is a surprise waiting for u in my check it out.

aipi said...

That looks superb n very authentic!! loved all the flavors going in there :)

US Masala

Malar Gandhi said...

Wow, sounds very vindaloo wud be an apt name too. Thanks for sharing the recipe with us.

Kankana said...

I never had Sardine and I am tempted to try them .. really! the only problem, my husband will not eat fish with skin or head or tail .. it has to be only fillet ( they are nice, but gets boring at times!)I am a bong married to a north indian so you know how much I am missing my fish, and to top that I stay in US, where I am finding difficulty to find some of the fresh water fish..

yeah! i talk to lot! your dish is motivating me to try sardine :)

Reshmi said...

hi.. first time here and reading thru this recipe it was unbelievable when I saw "Pressure cook the ingredients".. tat was really very daring... awesome recipe.. love to follow u!!

Plateful said...

Hey, congrats on the winning recipe! You know, we prepare something similar with sardines in the pressure cooker and it's called "chaala thappuvechathu". It's kinda dry version too. Will definitely try your recipe!

Emreen said...

Congrats on winning "The best dish award" for this recipe..!!!

Varsha Vipins said...

Thanks for the nice words on my blog Karishma..:)
I must say this recipe amazed,because of the pressure cooker method and 1 cup vinegar thingie..I would definitely love to try this,only if good sardines were available here..Thats one thing that can bring tears to my eyes now..:D but thanks for the recipe and I have this noted in the back of mind :)

Anonymous said...

Thrilled to finally see this recipe.My mother is from Talasherry, but her dish has no tomatoes or onions. Instead it has lots of ginger & garlic julienned & is typically made with any 'Oily fish' (fish with lots of bones),never White Fish.She uses the lowest heat on the pressure cooker without the whistle. It turns out similar to the fish pickle.