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
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)
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
- 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)
- 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.
- Wash fish in cold water. Pat dry. Pour marinade over fish and allow to marinate for about 15-20 minutes
- Add the 6-7 oz of cold water to the coconut in a small blender jar and pulverize till smooth.
- 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)
- Heat 2 tbsp peanut oil in a large flat pan.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Refrigerate the remaining ginger -garlic paste in an airtight glass container. Use within 2 weeks.
Diabetic exchanges: 1.5 protein exchanges, 1 fat exchange