Category Archives: Meen/Fish

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. 

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

  1. Clean the fish pieces; apply salt and turmeric powder and keep aside
  2. Finely chop garlic, onions and tomatoes separately
  3. Wash and soak tamarind in 1 cup hot water
  4. Heat oil in an iruppu chatti/Pan
  5. Add mustard seeds, when they splutter add fenugreek seeds and curry leaves
  6. Add chopped garlic, onions and tomatoes and fry for a while
  7. Add turmeric, chilli, pepper and coriander powders and salt and fry well
  8. Strain the tamarind and add the pulp
  9. Cook till the raw smell of spices and tamarind goes away
  10. Add the fish pieces and let the fish cook in the pan with closed lid in sim position
  11. The fish would be cooked in 5 -7 minutes or a little more
  12. Thicken the gravy if needed or add some water to make it thinner
  13. Serve hot with rice.

 

 

 Note:

  1. 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
  2. Soak tamarind in hot water to easily get the pulp or paste
  3. Meen Kuzhambu tastes best when made in an earthen pot.

Thengai Pal Meen Kuzhambu/Fish Curry with Coconut Milk

After a few years of cooking not so good meen kuzhambu/fish curry or not as good as mother-in-law’s fish curry, this one came as a respite. This fish curry never flopped – might be because of the coconut milk added. Thengai Pal means Coconut Milk in tamil and thengai pal gives an exotic flavour to any curry or payasam, no doubt. 

Meen Kuzhambu holds a special place in Tamilnadu cuisine.  Fresh fish curry is not served immediately and is considered better in taste the next day. The fish is left to absorb the flavour of tamarind with spices till the next day -not in the refrigerator please! I have seen my mother-in-law cook fish kuzhambu specially in a man chatti – earthen pot and leave it till next day. Though I don’t wait till the next day, at least three to four hours of waiting time after the curry is done is advisable.

While traditional Meen Kuzhambu would follow in the near future, this kuzhambu is something for the buffet table I would say. Frozen fish fillet also suits this and in fact, I find fillet tastes best in this kuzhambu/gravy.  Ingredients needed to make this kuzhambu are also easily available in the market – especially not much of spice grinding involved for those ‘quick cooks’!

For those new entrants to the world of non-vegetarianism (quite recently like me) and those who find tasting, consuming and especially cooking fish a troublesome issue, this kuzhambu would be easy work. Might be useful for non-cook husbands too – to introduce their wives to the fish world! Now, let’s plunge into making thengai pal meen kuzhambu.

Here, Tilapia Fish is used as it tastes better. I also use Panga Fish fillet got from the fish store.  But, feel free to use any kind of fish you love.

Thengai Pal Meen Kuzhambu/Coconut Milk Fish Curry

 

 

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Meen – Any fish/fish fillet – 250 gms
  • fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
  • garlic – 5 cloves
  • chinna vengayam/shallots – 8 nos. or big onion – 1 no.
  • tomatoes – 2 no.s
  • tamarind – lemon sized ball
  • red chilli powder – 2 tsp
  • coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • salt – as needed
  • coconut milk – 1 cup (canned or freshly extracted)
  • any cooking oil – 2 tsp
  • For Tempering
  • nallennai/gingelly oil – 2 tsp 
  • mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • curry leaves – a few

 

 chinna vengayam/shallots and poondu/garlic

 

Method of Preparation

  1. Soak tamarind in warm water for 15 minutes. Take the juice and keep aside
  2. Peel the skin of garlic, wash and keep aside
  3. Chinna vengayam or shallots always taste good in any fish curry – just peel the skin, wash and keep aside. If one uses big onion, peel, wash and cut to four pieces.
  4. Heat 1 tsp oil in an iruppu chatti/kadai
  5. Fry 1 tsp fenugreek seeds, garlic and onions in oil
  6. When they turn golden brown, add tomatoes and let them become soft
  7. Cool and blend well
  8. Heat remaining 1 tsp cooking oil in an iruppu chatti, and pour in the blended mixture
  9. Add tamarind juice, red chilli powder, coriander powder and salt and bring it to boil
  10. Let it boil to make a semi-thick gravy. Once fish is added, the gravy would become thinner/watery. Hence, it is advisable to make a thick gravy and then add fish to it
  11. Once the fish is cooked, pour in the coconut milk and cook in medium position for 5 minutes
  12. Tempering with gingelly oil enhances the taste of any south indian kuzhambu. Heat 2 tsp gingelly oil in a separate chatti; Add mustard seeds – when they splutter add curry leaves
  13. Pour this into the meen kuzhambu and serve hot
  14. Thengai Pal Meen Kuzhambu tastes best with Rice.

 

 

Note:

  1. Red chilli powder can be altered as per taste
  2. Tamarind pulp available in shops can also be used – add water and make a pourable consistency
  3. Meen Kuzhambu is cooked in nallennai or gingelly oil. If it is not available, one can use any cooking oil.