November 21, 2009

Kerala Fish Veykichathu

One of the most important delicacies in any Kerala Christian wedding feast is the "Meen Curry," 'meen' is the fish, specifically the 'Nemmeen' also known as Seer Fish or Spanish Mackerel or King Mackerel. My paternal grandmother is an expert cook and she is in charge of this dish in all our family functions. Her's the best meen curry I've ever had. One family member has even documented her exact recipe as she cooked elaborately for the wedding. I have taken her recipe and made it my own by adding shortcuts here and there, so it is quick and easy to cook.

Seer Fish - 1kg
Meen Puli (Kudampuli) - 6 pieces
Curry leaves - 3 sprigs (or 1/2 cup)
Ginger (chopped) - 2 tbsp
Garlic (chopped) - 2 tbsp
Shallots (sliced) - 1/2 cup
Vegetable oil - 1/2 cup
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds (methi) - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seed powder - 1/2 tsp
Dry red chilli - 4
Chilli powder (mild) - 3 tbsp
(also known as Kashmiri Mirch)
Coriander powder - 2 tbsp
Pepper powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Warm water - 1 cup
Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Wash the meen puli and soak in 1/2 cup of warm water.
Clean and deskin the fish. Cut each steak piece into 4 pieces.
Mix chilli powder, coriander powder, pepper powder and turmeric powder with a little water to form a thick paste.
Heat oil in large pan. Add the musturd seeds. When they start to sputter, add dry red chilli, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves.
Add sliced shallots, garlic and ginger. Fry till they are slightly crisp.
Add the masala paste and fry on a medium fire. Add small amounts of water from time to time to prevent the masala from burning.
Add the salt. Continue to stir and fry the masala until it darkens, becomes granular and the oil spereates from the masala.
Add the meen puli along with its water. Mix well and adjust salt to taste.
Add any remaining water and let the curry come to a boil.
Lower the flame and add the fish pieces in such a way that no piece overlaps the other and all pieces are immersed in the curry.
Cook on medium fire for 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked.
Sprinkle the fenugreek powder over the fish and drizzle the coconut oil for that authentic naadan taste. Cook on low fire for 5 minutes more.

This dish always tastes better the next day as the spicy curry seeps into the fish. It keep well in the refrigerator for about a week. Every Keralite will have a favourite side dish to go with this dish - mine is Kappa and Meen curry.

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