Sunday, March 6, 2011

The No-Fry Modern Fish Molee

I had earlier blogged about a "no-cook" fish molee (perfect for you singletons-check it out here). 
This "no-fry" fish molee is a lovely variant of the traditional one, a modern twist to a classic favorite, without any spices or spice powders, and it can be made in under 20 minutes! Vegetarians can just substitute the fish with vegetables to come up with an equally delectable vegetable stew....

If you think of it, it's amazing how influences from other cultures, languages, and countries creep into our own and in the course of time get so completely assimilated that their foreign origins are forgotten and they truly become like one of our own! This happens more frequently with food and language. Take for example, "mulligatawny" a soup that has been lovingly adopted in the West, from Tamil Nadu (literally broken down, it just means "milaku" and thanni"-pepper water). The reverse also happens, as in the case of the fish "molee", which every self-respecting Malayali would have had at least once in their life! This is a stew made with coconut milk and without any of the usual spices or spice powders used in Kerala cuisine. And where is the foreign influence, you might be wondering? Well, the Spaniards and Mexicans too have a sauce called "mole/molli" in which meat, fish, or vegetables are cooked. Considering how Kerala had a flourishing trade going on with many South American countries, my theory is that we adopted their "mole" and made it our own! See this wiki article

Traditionally, the fish used in the molee is first shallow fried very lightly, after marinating it in a turmeric-chilli powder-salt mixture for about 5 minutes. The best fish to use would be Seer fish or Pomfret, or any other richly fleshy fish. You could also use fish fillets, I suppose, but I've never tried it! If you're squeamish about fish skin and bones, then Sear fish would be perfect for you, as the skin can be easily removed and there is only one small piece of bone right in the center, which won't get in your way. Prawns would also make for a great molee!

Before going into the recipe, I have to add that this is my mother's re-creation of a fish molee we had at a restaurant (called Attica, in Trissur). I'm not good at cooking from memory, but my mom is, because when she made up her mind to make the fish molee exactly like the one we had there (with my dad cheering her on - it was his idea to attempt the experiment!), she succeeded and even took it up a notch in its taste! Now we call this the "Attica Molee" and make it as often as we make the traditional molee. This is easier to make than the traditional molee though, since we can skip the first step of frying the fish. This way, the fish retains its flavor beautifully and lends a fresh taste to the molee. Also, the addition of vegetables ups its health quotient!

To serve 4

  1. 500 g fish, in thin slices
  2. 1 large carrot, cut into thin discs
  3. 1 green (or any other color) capsicum, deseeded and cut into thin discs
  4. 2 cloves
  5. 1-inch cinnamon stick
  6. 1 sprig curry leaves (optional)
  7. 1 large onion, cut into long and thick slices
  8. 1 tablespoon ginger, julienned
  9. 5 green chillies, slit open (reduce or increase depending on your heat tolerance)
  10. 1 large tomato, cut into long and thick slices
  11. 1 tablespoon cornflour
  12. 1 cup thick coconut milk (freshly squeezed is obviously the best! For lazybones like me, 25 grams coconut milk powder dissolved in half cup warm water is just as good! I use Maggi brand.)
  13. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  14. Salt to taste
  15. Pepper to taste (optional-if using, white pepper would be best to blend in with the color of the molee)
  • Wash the fish slices and drain off all the water. Keep aside.
  • In a wide pan, heat up the oil and throw in the cloves, cinnamon, and curry leaves
  • When they sizzle, add the onions, ginger, green chillies and carrot slices all at once.
  • Stir until they all turn translucent.
  • Now add the tomatoes and capsicum and stir for 2 more minutes.
  • Then add the cornflour and mix everything around well.
  • Add 1 cup water (room temperature will do) and salt. Let it simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Now add the fish slices and let it cook, covered, on low heat for 10 minutes. Turn the fish over in between.
  • At the last stage, add the coconut milk and let it simmer again for a minute or two. Take off the heat and garnish with pepper, if needed.
Serve hot with bread slices, rice, chapathi (my favorite) or anything that has a name that ends with "-appam"-vellayappam, vattayappam, get the idea!!


Biny Anoop said...

hey kary whoever made it first...its a very famous recipe...loved ur recipe of not fryg it...prefer it dat way as well cos less of grease and tastes great as well

Katerina said...

I am with you in not frying the fish Karishma, it sure makes it lighter and more healthy. Moms are priceless don't you think? I never stop to be amazed by the richness of different dishes you have as a country!

Kankana said...

I have heard so much about fish molee and every time I wonder how it will taste! I think enough of thinking and I should just make it once .. what say ?:)

Indie.Tea said...

How healthy - to not have to fry the fish.
You know, I never thought of the Mexican/Latin mole to be of any similar to the South Indian version. It could just be that they are both Indo-European languages?

Renee said...

LOL on how alike we think :). The next time I make fish molly, I'm trying this method. Not for health reasons,but b'cos I'm lazy just like you (referring even to the maggi coconut milk bit)...and so not frying the fish would mean less work. No marinating, no frying and less dishes to wash. ;-)

Karishma said...

@Kankana-Actually was thinking about what you commented earlier, which is why I wrote you could use fish fillets or Sear fish... Now what are you waiting for? :)

Karishma said...

Biny and Katerina-Yes, its definitely healthier and tastier this way, at least for me! And we're just getting started on Indian cuisine here :) there is such a diverse and wide array of spices and cooking styles that it would boggle the mind!

Reshmi Mahesh said...

Hey first time here...loved your version of fish molly...very healthy....Happy to follow you..


aipi said...

Have heard a lot about this dish..seems to be quite popular in blogsphere too..obviously being a veggie never tried it but your version here sounds really healthy n nice. How can you go wrong with mom's recipe right :)

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Swati Sapna said...

i have never had fish molee... frankly my exposure to Kerala cuisine is very minimal. But this recipe sounds like something I will like :) gotta try it soon!

Swati Sapna said...

i have never had fish molee... frankly my exposure to Kerala cuisine is very minimal. But this recipe sounds like something I will like :) gotta try it soon!

Chitra said...

Hi first time here. u have a nice space with yummy recipe :)

Sanyukta Gour(Bayes) said...

first time @ ur molly looks yummy n delicious...visit me if time permits...

divya said...

first time @ ur molly looks yummy n to follow u...