Go fish!: Authentic, home -style Indian fish curry, reduced calorie version

Growing up on the west coast of tropical India, I remember we would eat fresh fish delivered to our door step (I am serious!) by a fisher-woman called Budha-bai several days a week. I must have been only 3-4 years old, but I have a vivid memory of my grandmother using a large flat stone with a stone rolling-pin to grind the ginger garlic paste manually, before we transitioned to an electric mixer by the time I was 5! I could swear that the fish curry tasted somehow better made this way, although I am sure the fish that was caught locally just hours before being served in a delectable stew, may have had something to do with it!

Number of servings: 8, 1/2 cup servings

Serving size: 1/2 cup

Home-style Indian fish curry with tomato-tamarind-coconut paste. © 2015 Sangeeta Pradhan

Home-style Indian fish curry with tomato-tamarind-coconut paste. © Copyright 2015 Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Ingredients:

1 lb fresh wild cod, chopped into 3-4″ chunks (about 14-16  small pieces)

½ cup grated dry or fresh coconut + approximately 6-7 oz of water

2 tbsp peanut oil

4-5 small garlic cloves, peeled, halved and smashed with a rolling-pin or back of a spoon

2 tbsp of fresh, chopped cilantro

For the marinade:

1.5 tsp coriander-fennel-ginger-garlic paste. Recipe follows.

2 tbsp tamarind extract. (see below)

Figure 2: From left to right: cilantro, strained coconut milk. garlic, tamarind with tomato paste in the center. © 2015 Sangeeta Pradhan

Figure 2: From left to right: cilantro, strained coconut milk. garlic, tamarind with crushed tomatoes in the center. © 2015 Sangeeta Pradhan

1 cup Hunt’s no salt added crushed tomatoes

3/4- 1  tsp chili powder, per taste

3/4 tsp turmeric powder

3/4 tsp garam masala (available in ethnic Indian groceries)

1 tsp salt or to taste

Method:

  1. Soak tamarind in about 3 tbsp of warm water for a few minutes.  Gather up the tamarind and using the fingers and palm of the hand, squeeze tightly, to extract the juice into a medium bowl. You will need about 2 tbsp of this extract. Refrigerate the remaining tamarind in a small, glass air-tight container. ( Will last for up to 1-2 weeks depending upon humidity)
  2. Add 1.5 tsp of the prepared, fresh ginger-garlic paste to the bowl along with crushed tomatoes, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala and salt. Stir to combine.
  3. Wash fish in cold water. Pat dry. Pour marinade over fish and allow to marinate for about 15-20 minutes

    Figure 4: Fish with tomato and tamarind extract marinade

    Figure 4: Fish with tomato and tamarind extract marinade

  4. Add the 6-7 oz of cold water to the coconut in a small blender jar and pulverize till smooth.
  5. Place a cheese cloth in a sieve or strainer and  strain the coconut to extract the milk. You should get roughly 2/3 cup of strained coconut milk. Set aside.  ( see figure 5 and 6 to see  the difference in the saturated fat content of strained and unstrained coconut milk)
    Figure 5:© 2015 Sangeeta Pradhan Coconut milk before straining. Note globules of saturated fat.

    Figure 5: Coconut milk before straining. Note globules of saturated fat. © 2015 Sangeeta Pradhan .

    Figure 6: Strained Coconut milk with significantly reduced saturated fat. © 2015 Sangeeta Pradhan

    Figure 6: Strained coconut milk with significantly reduced saturated fat. © 2015 Sangeeta Pradhan

  6. Heat 2 tbsp peanut oil in a large flat pan.
  7. Add the 4-5 peeled, halved and smashed garlic cloves to the oil in the pan, until they sizzle and turn golden brown. Add marinated fish in one layer, shaking pan gently.
  8. Add coconut milk, bringing mixture to a full boil. Add 4 oz of water to the remaining marinade in the bowl, stir and add contents of the bowl to the fish-coconut mixture in the pan. Simmer for approximately 1-2 minutes and turn off heat immediately.
  9. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander and serve hot with Indian whole wheat roti.

Hint: Fish, especially cod cooks within minutes and is done when flesh is flaky.  Be careful to not overcook. 

Recipe for coriander-fennel-ginger-garlic paste

Cloves from 1 large garlic pod, peeled and coarsely chopped

3″piece of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

1.5 tsp coriander seeds

1.5 tsp fennel seeds

Fresh coriander leaves, washed, stems removed, approximately ¼-1/3 cup

Ingredients for ginger-garlic-fennel and coriander seeds paste. © 2015 Sangeeta Pradhan

Figure 1: Ingredients for ginger-garlic-fennel and coriander seeds paste. © 2015 Sangeeta Pradhan

  1. To prepare ginger-garlic paste, combine the garlic, ginger, cilantro, coriander seeds and fennel seeds in the jar of an electric blender along with ¼ cup of water until blended to a fine paste. Paste should be somewhat thick and not too runny.
  2. Refrigerate the remaining ginger -garlic paste in an airtight glass container.  Use within 2 weeks.
image

Home-style fish curry with tamarind-coconut-tomato paste. © 2015 Sangeeta Pradhan

Nutrient Analysis: myfitnesspal.com. Myfitnesspal is an independent website and is not in any way affiliated with this blog.

Nutrient Analysis: myfitnesspal.com. Myfitnesspal is an independent website and is not in any way affiliated with this blog.

Diabetic exchanges: 1.5 protein exchanges, 1 fat exchange

A Registered Dietitian’s tip: Quintessential South Asian and South East Asian curries are delicious, but notorious for their high saturated fat content from coconut. This is a lighter version achieved by straining the coconut milk.  At 1 gram of saturated fat per serving, it is significantly lower than the original recipe, which has over 5 grams per 1/2 cup serving or at least 10 grams per cup. This curry strikes a happy medium between incorporating the delectable flavor of coconut, without overwhelming the taste buds. Crushed tomatoes are also used to expand the gravy instead of using a large quantity of coconut milk, which is what traditional recipes call for.

Go fish!: Cod is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, that not only have anti- inflammatory properties, they can also reduce your risk of stroke by decreasing the risk of clots forming in your arteries. In addition, research shows omega- 3 fatty acids may lower triglycerides and blood pressure, while raising  HDL or your (“healthy”) cholesterol. Not to mention, fish is also an excellent source of protein.

Disclaimer: All the content on this blog is strictly for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor or registered dietitian for recommendations tailored to your unique needs.

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About Sangeeta Pradhan RD, CDE

Hi there! Welcome to my blog! If you are confused with all the conflicting messages you get bombarded with every day on carbs, fats, proteins, gluten and anything you can think of related to nutrition, look no further! The purpose of my blog is to cut through all this clutter, utilizing scientific, evidence based guidelines to help you, the consumer, navigate the complex, dietary landscape, and thus empower you to make informed decisions.
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2 Responses to Go fish!: Authentic, home -style Indian fish curry, reduced calorie version

  1. dilipnaidu says:

    Wow this is interesting. We love fish too and will be better informed now. Thank you and regards.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are more than welcome!

    Like

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