Rice with Meen Kuzhambu/Fish Curry
This can be a quick and easy sunday non-vegetarian meal – not to waste much of the precious weekend family time in the kitchen. One can also make this meen curry on a friday/saturday evening and store for the next day lunch/brunch! I don’t think this can be called an exact kuzhambu as generally kuzhambu is a thinner version. This can be fish in a thick gravy/thokku! Add more water and it can be converted to a simple kuzhambu.
The word ‘curry’
Curry has become a very popular and sort after word in the UK and many parts around the world…
The earliest apparent mention in print in the English language occurs in a translation (1598) of a Dutch traveller’s account of voyages in the E. and W. Indies. Referring to Indians, this text states that: ‘Most of their fish is eaten with rice, which they seeth in broth, which they put upon the rice, and is somewhat sour but it tasteth well and is called Carriel, which is their daily meat.’ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/encyclopedia/definition/curry/730/
The word comes from “Kari” which is from the Tamil language and was later anglicized into “curry”. Curry powder itself is not a single spice but a blend of different spices and can be mild or hot. This golden colored spice is one of the oldest spice mixes and is most often associated with Indian cuisine. http://www.indepthinfo.com/curry/history.shtml
There is also another view to the origin of the word curry in english -
200 cooks and several philosophers were summoned by King Richard II to produce the first English cookery book ‘The Forme of Cury’ in 1390. The book contained 196 recipes. None of these recipes have any thing in common with Indian curries. ‘Cury’ was the Old English word meaning cuisine based on French ‘cuire’ meaning: to cook, boil, or grill.. After the cookery book, Cury became a popular part of English vocabulary. The term Cury became associated with stew. http://www.indiacurry.com/faqhistory/hfaqcurry.htm
‘Kari’ means Meat
The word ‘curry’ is believed to be the anglicized version of the tamil word ‘kari’. But, in Tamil, the word kari/curry might denote meat..
Kozhi kari kuzhambu means Chicken Gravy – where kozhi means chicken, kari means meat and kuzhambu means gravy;
Aatu kari kuzhambu means Lamb Gravy – Aadu means Lamb, kari kuzhambu means meat gravy;
The same applies for Meen kari kuzhambu where Meen means Fish; and
Kothu Kari means Minced Meat.
Most people in the world today know what a curry is – or at least think they do. In Britain the term ‘curry’ has come to mean almost any Indian dish, whilst most people from the sub-continent would say it is not a word they use, but if they did it would mean a meat, vegetable or fish dish with spicy sauce and rice or bread. http://www.menumagazine.co.uk/book/curryhistory.html
Now, the Meen Curry.
Ingredients (serves four)
- meen/fish - 500 gms (any variety – with bones or fillet as preferred)
- garlic - 6 cloves
- onions - 2 medium
- tomato – 2 medium
- tamarind – marble sized ball
- red chilli powder - 2 tsp
- coriander powder - 3 tsp
- pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
- turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
- salt – as needed
- oil - 4 tbsp
- kadugu/mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- vendhayam/fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp
- curry leaves – a few
Method of Preparation
- Clean the fish pieces; apply salt and turmeric powder and keep aside
- Finely chop garlic, onions and tomatoes separately
- Wash and soak tamarind in 1 cup hot water
- Heat oil in an iruppu chatti/Pan
- Add mustard seeds, when they splutter add fenugreek seeds and curry leaves
- Add chopped garlic, onions and tomatoes and fry for a while
- Add turmeric, chilli, pepper and coriander powders and salt and fry well
- Strain the tamarind and add the pulp
- Cook till the raw smell of spices and tamarind goes away
- Add the fish pieces and let the fish cook in the pan with closed lid in sim position
- The fish would be cooked in 5 -7 minutes or a little more
- Thicken the gravy if needed or add some water to make it thinner
- Serve hot with rice.
- After the fish is washed, a paste of turmeric powder and salt is rubbed over the fish pieces and kept for at least 1/2 an hour
- Soak tamarind in hot water to easily get the pulp or paste
- Meen Kuzhambu tastes best when made in an earthen pot.