Madras Fish Curry of Snapper, Tomato and Tamarind

Featuring snapper fillets, this curry is inspired by Rick Stein's Indian adventures. The fish dish uses madras curry flavours of tamarind and green chillies.

Introduction

I have written at some length in the main introduction of my book about finding this curry, which I have nominated as my favourite. I’ve used the same fish it was cooked with on that day in Mamallapuram - snapper - but in the UK I recommend using any of the following: monkfish fillet, because you get firm slices of white, meaty fish; filleted bass, preferably a large fish, because although you’ll get softer flesh it has plenty of flavour; or gurnard. I think more than anything else that this dish typifies what I was saying about really fresh fish not being ruined by a spicy curry. I can still remember the slightly oily flavour of the exquisite snapper in that dish because fish oil, when it’s perfectly fresh, is very nice to eat. I always think oily fish goes well with curry anyway, particularly with the flavours of tomatoes, tamarind and curry leaves.

Serves 4-6
Easy

Ingredients

60ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 large onion, finely chopped
15g / 3 cloves garlic, finely crushed
30 fresh curry leaves
2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp turmeric
400g can of chopped tomatoes
100ml Tamarind liquid (see ingredients and method below)
2 green chillies, each sliced lengthways into 6 pieces, with seeds
1 tsp salt
700g snapper fillets, cut into 5cm chunks
Boiled basmati rice, to serve
For the tamarind liquid:
60g tamarind pulp
120ml just-boiled water

Instructions

First, make the tamarind liquid. Take the tamarind pulp and put it in a bowl with the water. Leave to soak for 15 minutes, then work the paste with your fingers until it has broken down and the seeds have been released. Strain the slightly syrupy mixture through a fine sieve, rubbing it well against the sides of the sieve to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the fibrous material and seeds left behind.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or karahi over a medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and fry for 30 seconds, then stir in the onion and garlic and fry gently for about 10 minutes until softened and lightly golden. Add the curry leaves, chilli powder, coriander and turmeric and fry for 2 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes, tamarind liquid, green chillies and salt and simmer for about 10 minutes until rich and reduced. Add the fish, cook for a further 5 minutes or until just cooked through, and serve with plain rice.

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