A very simple and sour soupy fish curry with fresh ground spices and tang from sweet tamarind and vinegar. I found fresh mackerel at the store and was immediately inspired to make this.
There are no tomatoes or yogurt like most north indian fish curries here. The much needed sour comes from vinegar, the use of which is slightly inspired by how goan fish curries are done, however I didn’t use any coconut or coconut milk in this one.
With a bowl of warm rice and few sliced onions, this is absolute delight to eat. You can use any firm mild fish in this recipe. Fresh ground spices make the aroma of the curry even more bold and I really recommend you grind them fresh, incidentally that is the only time consuming part of this recipe.
3 Mackerel, cut into pieces (about 1 pound), cleaned
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp cooking oil
1/4 th piece star anise
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1-2 tsp hot red chilli powder(adjust to taste)
6-8 curry leaves
1.5 tbsp malt vinegar (less if you like less sour)
2 tbsp tamarind pulp
1 tsp jaggery (skip if using sweet tamarind)
Salt to tatse
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
5-6 Black peppercorns
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
Place the fish in a bowl. Sprinkle the turmeric and salt over the fish and massage nicely. Set aside for 15 mins.
Dry roast all the spices listed under “Spices” and grind them to a powder using your spice grinder. Mix the spices with red chilli & turmeric along with a couple tablespoons of water in a bowl and let stand.
In a cooking pot, add the oil. Once the oil is smoky a bit, add the star anise and saute for 10 seconds. Add the onions next and let them brown. The onions have to be browned nicely for a good flavor. Once the onions are browned, add the ginger and garlic and saute for a minute or so till you smell the aroma.
Next add the curry leaves along with the spice paste, you can add a splash of water (about 3 tbsp) and cook everything together for a few minutes till you notice the oil separating. Dont saute a lot.
Add 1 cup warm water to the pot, add salt and let come to a slow simmer. Add the fish next to the pot and let cook on low heat for 7-8 minutes. Dont let boil. You can cover if you fish but really fish cooks fast.
Once you notice that the fish is white and firm, add the vinegar, tamarind and jaggery. Gently mix everything and let cook for another 2 mins.
Switch off the stove and cover the pot. Let sit for 2 hours before serving.
Achari comes from the word “Achaar” which means pickle in Hindi. Tikka is any kind of boneless meat or vegetables baked or roasted on skewers. Pickles in India are a serious business involving lots of spices, lots of oil & lots of solar energy. Achari is a method of using the pickling spices to make curries. The spice mix is pungent and resonant with bold flavors from fenugreek (methi dana), mustard (raai) & nigella(kalonji) seeds.These spices are not hot, rather they are pungent, quite bitter and have a very strong aroma.In pickles, they ferment over a period of time & give a tangy taste. In curries, they lend a really unique & piquant taste. Achaari preparations don’t taste like normal curries, the taste is acquired & unusual, but at the same time can be very very addictive. Having said that, this should not stop you from trying these skewers coz they are different and really delish. Give these tikkas a chance – trust me it will take you straight to India.You just need to stock up on few spices which last forever from indian stores.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
400 gms /14 oz paneer ( Indian cheese, pierced with a fork,cut into 1” cubes)
1 medium orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
10-12 grape tomatoes, whole
1 medium red onion,diced
Oil for brushing
Lemon Wedges, Cilantro for garnish
10-12 bamboo skewers
Paneer is easily available in Indian stores under different brands.
Paneer can be replaced by extra firm Tofu or Halloumi /Any cheese which can withstand grilling or roasting without melting.
You can use any vegetables of choice here – zucchini,mushrooms work great. Just ensure that the cooking times of vegetable dont vary much.
Dice the vegetables smaller/thinner than paneer, coz it takes less time to cook than veggies.
For the Non vegetarian Version– Use boneless & cubed lamb, mutton, beef, chicken(dark portions) or shrimp.
For the Marinade:-
1/2 tsp each of cumin, fennel, coriander & brown mustard (raai) seeds
1/4 tsp each of nigella & fenugreek seeds
4-5 dry red chillies or red pepper flakes (adjust to tolerance)
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 tbsp plain, thick greek yogurt, slightly sour
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp mustard oil (preferable for better taste, can be substituted with canola/olive/corn oil)
Salt to taste
If using bamboo/wooden skewers soak them in water for atleast 2-3 hours.
Soak the cubed paneer in enough warm water seasoned with salt for about 15 minutes.Once soaked, drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
In a small sauce pan, on high heat, lightly dry roast all the seeds under the “For the Marinade”.Roast for about 20 seconds or till you smell the aroma.Remove into a small bowl and let cool.
Next, in the same pan, roast the whole red chillies for about 20 seconds.
Tip the cooled, roasted spices along with red chillies into mortar or coffee grinder. Grind to a smooth powder to get a achari spice mix.
In a bowl (big enough to hold the marinade & ingredients), combine the yogurt, achari spice mix, ginger, garlic,oil,lemon juice & salt.Whisk well to mix.
Combine the paneer with the achari marinade,toss gently, cover the bowl with a cling film and set to marinate for 30 minutes,refrigerated.
Add the vegetables to the marinade 5 minutes before ready to cook the skewers. This is important to keep the moisture of vegetables intact.
Once marinated, thread the marinated paneer & vegetables on soaked bamboo skewers. Brush with oil on all sides.
Cooking the Tikka :- I grilled the skewers on high for 4 minutes each side. You can cook them in my broiler till the paneer edges started to turn brown.About 10-12 minutes.You will need to flip them sideways to cook on all sides. Alternatively you can cook them in a skillet/griddle (about 8-10 minutes)
Serve warm with green coriander-mint chutney and flatbreads or rice.
If using red meat or chicken for making this recipe, marinate the meat overnight or atleast 6 hours to get better flavors.
A traditional & (sometimes) time-consuming dish like this is a must in my house at least once a week..mostly middle of the week.The week usually starts on a very low note with soups,salads, lentils-rice etc thanks to our upset stomachs crying for simple home cooked meals to wither away the weekend damages from uncontrolled eating outside.Once we are back to normal,a recipe like this is required to do away the boredom of simple [ read bland] foods.Notice the vicious cycle & the excuses to cook heavy food,eat and enjoy! Such dishes,loaded with indian flavors keep my guy happy.He has this unfathomable love for indian food, not that it’s a miracle [considering that he is an indian] but I m amazed at the fact that how can anyone eat [or at least want to eat] indian food 365 days of the year and never get bored of it for once???
A typical scene whenever we are getting ready to eat out is like this:-
Me – “Lets go to OG (Olive Garden for italian ) or PF (Chang’s for chinese)”
Him -“As you say.Get ready! ”
After half an hour – Me, happily dressed, getting into the car & asking to double confirm “OG or PF?”
Him – “Where do you want to go?” ( hoping that I might have changed my options)
Me -“OG” (replying shamelessly even after knowing that he doesnt like italian)
Half way, through the drive, he feels that there still might be a chance to change.He tries again,for the third time now ” You REALLY wanna eat italian?”
Mostly, not because I m trying to be a good wife (or whatever ),I give in to eat indian coz I don’t want to spoil the poor guy’s dinner 🙂 You should see the spark in his eyes as he locks the car in front of the restaurant!
Alright,this dish you might or might not get in the indian restaurants so make it at home.Its a rich, spicy & really flavorful preparation.”Bhuna” is basically a technique of searing the meat first,cooking a thick spice paste in oil,adding the seared meat to it & then slow cooking in its own juices it for 2-3 hours.The slow cooking results in deep strong flavours but a very thick sauce.”Bhuna” literally means browned, the meat in this dish has a brown look due to all the slow cooking & particularly the used of many black indian spices that make there way into the recipe.Boneless meat will not work in this recipe unless it’s a very thick cut.If using chicken, try to use the dark meat portions like thighs & drumsticks. The beauty of this two-in-one recipe is that the spice rub is so flavorful that you can drop the sauce preparation & grill the chicken pieces to make a perfect summer appetizer. As always I shy away from use of tomatoes in meat dishes, you can add some if you want.
2 lbs chicken, bone in, skinned [7-8 pieces,use thigh/drumsticks or dark meat portions]
1 tsp oil for rubbing on chicken +more for brushing on the grill pan
1.5 tsp salt
For the spice rub :-
4 whole dry red chilies
2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
2 black cardamom pods, cracked open
2 tsp black peppercorns [ Adjust to taste]
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
For the sauce :-
1 cup onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic ,grated
2″ ginger shoot, grated
3 bay leaves
1″ cinnamon stick
3/4 cup plain yogurt, beaten [slightly sour]
4 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Cilantro, chillies etc for garnish [optional]
Wash the chicken pieces thoroughly & pat dry using a paper towel.Once dried, rub the 1 tsp oil & 1.5 tsp salt over the pieces.Set aside for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, on low heat,roast all the whole spices [except turmeric,nutmeg & salt] till you smell the aroma.About 5 minutes.
Let the roasted spices cool down a bit.Once cooled, tip into your coffee grinder or using mortar & pestle, coarsely grind the spices.
Add turmeric, ground nutmeg & salt to the ground spices to make a mix.
Lay the chicken pieces in a single layer and thoroughly rub half the amount of spice mix all over.Let sit for another 5 minutes. Mix the rest of the spice mix with beaten yogurt & set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a grill pan [or a normal pan] to smoking hot.Once hot,brush some oil on the pan and layer the chicken pieces on the pan. Here, the idea is just to sear the flesh of the chicken [not cook it].You can even do it in the same pot in which you want to cook the sauce,I prefer a wide open pan for the sake of searing all piece in one go & easier flipping.Let sear for about 5 minutes on each side. Once seared, remove from heat.Reserve the drippings if any. Note:- You can use your outdoor grill too for this purpose.
While the chicken is being seared, heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot with lid on medium heat. [ or use your slow cooker for this purpose]
Once the oil is smoking, lower the heat & add the chopped onions to the pot.Cook the onions till golden brown.About 8 minutes.
Next, add the grated ginger & garlic to the pot along with bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Cook for 1 minute more.Let the heat be on low.
Add the spice mixed yogurt to the pot next and combine well with onions.Cook for 2 minutes with constant stirring to avoid curdling of the yogurt.You will slowly see yogurt releasing water. TIP: Whenever adding yogurt to hot pot, ensure that the stove is on the lowest mark.
Add the seared chicken pieces to the pot next, pep up the heat to medium and cook the chicken pieces for 5 minutes.Check the salt now [ remember we rubbed chicken with salt earlier] and adjust if required. Also,add the drippings[ if any] from the grill pan to the pot.
Again, reduce the heat to lowest possible on your stove, cover the pot and let the chicken cook to fully done.About 25-30 minutes.Avoid adding any water to the pot.As the chicken will cook,it will release its own juices which are enough to cook it.You will need to stir in between once or twice. Avoid adding any water to the pot.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove from heat and let sit covered for another 10 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro & sliced chillies.
Serve warm with chapthis, naan [flatbreads] or cumin rice.
If you want to serve the chicken as appetizers, cook them to perfection on the outdoor/indoor grill itself & serve with Mango Mint Chutney.
This recipe can be used for goat meat,turkey, beef or lamb also.The cooking time will very as per the kind of meat used.
This spice rub is serves as a flavorful condiment to add indian twist to your grilling.