This recipe is from the state of Kerala, India. Kerala’s cuisine or any regional cuisine evolves based on native ingredients. This dish represents the region’s abundant supply of fish and coconut.
Serves 4 – 6 • 1 ½ pounds fish fillet such as catfish or sea bass • 1 cup canned coconut milk, divided • ¼ cup vegetable oil • 4 green cardamoms, slightly crushed to open the shell • 10 curry leaves • 1 cup sliced onions • 1 – inch piece ginger, julienned • 1 – 4 green chilies such as serrano, cut lengthwise into two • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste • 1 teaspoon black pepper corns, slightly crushed • 1 tomato, finely chopped • 1 teaspoon salt • ¼ teaspoon turmeric • 1 teaspoon lime juice
Clean the fish under cold running water, pat dry with paper towels, cut into large chunks, and set aside. Dilute ½ a cup of coconut milk with ¾ cup of water and set aside until needed. Heat oil in a wide 10-inch skillet over medium high heat. Add cardamom and curry leaves. Fry for a minute. Add sliced onions, green chilies and julienned ginger. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add ginger garlic paste and pepper corns. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt and turmeric. Cook until tomatoes are soft for about 2 – 3 minutes. Add diluted coconut milk. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 – 7 minutes. Add fish pieces in a single layer and cook for 8 – 10 minutes or until fish are cooked. Stir in the rest of the ½ a cup of coconut milk in and heat through. Stir in lime juice. Season to taste. Serve with plain white rice.
Cook’s Note: Green cardamoms. and whole green chilies are added for flavor only and are not meant to be eaten.