Sunday, April 12, 2015

shallow fry to make fish fry | recipe of curry patta infused fish fry

This fish fry with prominent flavour of curry patta is a party in the mouth. Tingling mix of heat and tartness, intense flavour of curry patta seeped deep into the fish makes it a real treat.

I first tasted it when a Malyali friend had invited us home and due to some emergency we had to cancel the dinner that day. She just sent me a dabba of marinated fish that she had planned to fry that evening because she wanted us to taste her special recipe. She just instructed me to shallow fry these fish steaks in sesame oil and enjoy with some cucumbers.

When I opened that dabba ( a steel box) lined with banana leaves, I was in for a surprise as the fat fish steaks were covered with a coarse paste of curry patta, lot of chilly flakes, crushed peppercorns  and bits of tamarind was also visible. I immediately understood why she categorically told me to have it with cucumbers. Yes cucumbers and some buttermilk blended with fresh coconut and more curry patta were the things that saved our palate that day, the fish fry was so hot that our noses turned red and we kept eating unperturbed, with sips of the buttermilk and bites of cucumber in between.

I have cooked this recipe several times since then, about a decade to be precise. And somehow I end up using a similar steel dabba to marinate this fish. Food is often more about pleasant memories than the other things.

I have toned down the heat of this fish fry to suit my preference.

(2 servings as a meal with some salad and stir fry on the side)

large fat steaks of fish ( I used Catla) about 400 gm : fish fillet would also work
curry patta 20 springs or more
garlic cloves 2-3
fresh ginger root chopped 2 tsp
dry red chillies 2-3 or as per taste
black pepper corns 1 tsp
chopped bits of dry tamarind 1 tbsp or a bit more
salt to taste
sesame oil to shallow fry about 2 tbsp or even less


blend everything together coarsely except the fish. Do not add water, taste and adjust the heat and sourness in the marinade.

Smear over the fish and refrigerate overnight.

At the time of serving, heat a skillet ( I used cast iron skillet) with sesame oil brushed over it. Spread the fish pieces along with a coating of marination over it and let it cook each side for about 5-6 minutes. Test by pricking the fish and serve hot with cucumbers, other salads or whatever you feel like.

**I generally cover the shallow frying fish with a dome lid and let it cook on medium flame, flip it after a while and then cook uncovered. This ensure even cooking in very less oil.

You can even deep fry these fish, I have done it for larger gatherings and it has turned out perfectly well. Just make sure you dust the marinated fish with a very thin layer of besan (chickpea flour) just before dipping the fish steaks into hot oil. Fry till light brown, drain on kitchen paper and serve as required.

We had a nice alu palak with this meal because there has been so much great tasting home grown spinach that I cannot just ignore the goodness for anything else. This alu palak was made with some yogurt blended with steamed spinach and it was wonderfully delicious.

The curry patta infused fish fry tastes great with just about any fish, but I end up making it with firm and fat steaks just as my friend had made. The extra marinade gets nicely browned and you would look for all the crumbs in the skillet, every last crumb will be mopped off trust me.

Do let me know whenever you make this curry patta infused fish fry. I am sure you would remember my friend that way too!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

sabut masoor ki daal and how to make it differently for everyday convenience

Sabut masoor ki daal used to be a frequent dinner time daal back in my parents' home. For some reason peeli arhar ki daal for lunch and sabut masoor ki daal for dinner was almost a ritual that we grew up with. Winters brought a lot of matar ka nimona and masoor ki daal ka nimona or even palak ka nimona that I have not cooked since ages, but we came back to square one in summers. The same peeli arhar ki daal and masoor ki daal routine we followed religiousely but I don't remember anyone ever complained. I think we were a bunch of extremely active-growing-hungry kids who would get even more hungry when the dining table was laid out.

I think one reason why sabut masoor ki daal was so frequent on the table was that it came from the village grown organically for the family. I can well understand now why my parents wanted to use the home grown lentils to the fullest.

I remember papa would cut salad, would prepare the jars of pickled onion and ginger-garlic and there would always be some freshly ground green chutney at the table. Hot daal with home made ghee was another standard presence at the table that everyone looked forward to. Simple real foods that become a habit and comfort, far from ordering a pizza meal that many associate with comfort food these days. One can always make better choices I say.

So this sabut masoor ki daal remained the comfort food forever. The husband is not too fond of it but he likes it for a change. I eat my sabut masor ki dal religiously,silently and mostly like a one pot meal. I am sharing one of my simplest one pot recipes first, the tadka tempered recipe is next. I cook both the recipes as per convenience and mood, also depending on whether the daal is to be served to guests or to ourselves. For ourselves I like the quick simpler version more, lighter and milder on spice quotient. Topped with a blob of butter or ghee.

(2 servings)

whole red lentils with skin washed and drained (sabut masoor ki daal) 1/2 cup
chopped garlic 1 tsp
chopped ginger root 1-2 tsp (I like a bit more ginger but add as per taste)
chopped green chillies 1 tsp or to taste
black pepper powder 1/4 tsp
roasted cumin powder 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
2 tbsp chopped onions and one medium tomato blended together to make a fine paste
hing (asafoetida) 1 pinch
salt to taste

*ghee 1 tsp + 1 tsp


Put all the ingredients together in a pressure cooker pan and add 1.5 cups of water. Add salt to taste and 1 tsp *ghee and close the lid. Place on the gas flame and cook till the first whistle blows. Lower the flame and cook further for 8-10 minutes.

Let the pressure release by itself. Open the lid and stir the cooked daal once. Adjust consistency by adding water or cooking a bit more to make the daal thicker if you wish. Add the remaining 1 tsp ghee and serve hot. You don't even need to garnish it with dhaniya patta or anything. Add more ghee if you wish and can afford health wise.

More ghee is bad ONLY if you eat a lot of it and that too not for clogging your blood vessels but by adding extra calories to your overall daily food intake.

The tadka tempered version of the sabut masoor ki daal would cooked simply with salt and turmeric powder in the pressure cooker as stated above. A tempering will be prepared and added to the cooked daal and simmered for 5 minutes before serving. Some milk and cream would be added to make the daal more 'dressed up for the occasion' if the daal is being served to guests. Not to enhance the taste but to dress it up to look good.

To make a tempering masala for the spiced sabut masoor ki daal..

For 2-3 servings of the daal, heat 1 tbsp ghee in a pan, add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and some chopped onions, fry till onions get pinkish but not brown. Add 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste and fry till it all looks glazed.

Add 2 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp pepper powder, red chilly powder to taste and let it all sizzle for a second. Add a little garam masala and 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes. Add  bit of salt and fry till everything gets mushy.

Pour this mix into the cooked masoor ki daal and simmer till everything gets incorporated. Add 1/2 cup milk or 2 tbsp cream if desired. Let it come to a boil again.

Serve hot garnished with whatever you like. A blob of butter or a dollop of cream goes a long way to ensure everyone is smitten with the daal. I like some ginger julienne but skip adding it if the other side dishes are hot.

The best part with this daal and many other daals that I cook is, that I use the leftovers to create a favourite breakfast of mine. Daal dhokli made with leftover daal is the best ghee laced breakfast for me to start the day.

Just dilute the daal with equal amount of water. You need about 3/4 cup of cooked daal per serving. Roll out a chapati using multigrain dough and cut the rolled chapati into small square pieces. Mix everything together and simmer till the thin pieces of chapati get cooked. It takes about 5 minutes total.

This is just like pasta in a lentil soup. Trust me this curried lentil pasta will be much more loved than a regular pasta in a soup. Try once if you don't believe me.

Sabut masor ki daal will be your favourite too. Or probably it already is.