Mutton fry – That’s not the best of pictures, I know. Shall update it shortly. Yet, no compromise in taste.
Aadu Vathakkal or Stir fried Mutton can be found in restaurant menus as mutton fry. It’s a spicy dry curry. And as a well known fact, the culinary secrets of Indian Cuisine differs with each family. With the basic preparations intact, modify the fry as per your taste and spice preference. With the addition of tomatoes, this might become a gravy dish.
Since I decided to make Mutton Varuval, along with biriyani, I put in the mutton pieces for both biriyani and spicy fry in the pressure cooker for initial cooking. This reduces the time in cooking mutton separately. After a kilo of mutton is cooked in the first stage, separate boneless chunks (app. 250 gms) for Vathakkal. Keep the bigger portion for Biriyani.
Otherwise, to make a separate mutton fry, pressure cook mutton pieces with water, salt and ginger for 30-40 mins. or until done. Enjoy the broth as soup with crushed pepper. Take the pieces for the vadhakkal/fry. Easy isn’t it?
mutton – 250 gms
garlic – 12 cloves crushed coarsely
onions – 2 no.s sliced fine
salt – to taste
juice of ½ lemon
oil – 2 tbsp
red chilli powder – 1 tsp
coriander powder – ½ tsp
black/white pepper powder – 1 tsp
turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Method of Preparation
Cook mutton in water, with salt and ginger for 30-40 minutes or until cooked well.
Strain the cooked broth and consume as soup.
Use cooked mutton pieces for the fry.
In a pan, heat oil and fry the crushed garlic.
Add sliced onions and sauté till golden brown.
Add turmeric, red chilli, coriander and white pepper/black pepper powders and mix well.
Add ¼ cup cooked broth and a pinch of salt. Be cautious with salt, as salt has already been added while cooking mutton pieces.
Cook closed in sim flame.
After the raw smell of powders is gone, open lid, keep stove medium.
When almost done, keep flame in full and let the water dry.
Add the juice of lemon and transfer vathakkal to a serving dish.
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
nallennai/gingelly oil – 2 tsp
mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
curry leaves – a few
chinna vengayam/shallots and poondu/garlic
Method of Preparation
Soak tamarind in warm water for 15 minutes. Take the juice and keep aside
Peel the skin of garlic, wash and keep aside
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.
Heat 1 tsp oil in an iruppu chatti/kadai
Fry 1 tsp fenugreek seeds, garlic and onions in oil
When they turn golden brown, add tomatoes and let them become soft
Cool and blend well
Heat remaining 1 tsp cooking oil in an iruppu chatti, and pour in the blended mixture
Add tamarind juice, red chilli powder, coriander powder and salt and bring it to boil
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
Once the fish is cooked, pour in the coconut milk and cook in medium position for 5 minutes
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
Pour this into the meen kuzhambu and serve hot
Thengai Pal Meen Kuzhambu tastes best with Rice.
Red chilli powder can be altered as per taste
Tamarind pulp available in shops can also be used – add water and make a pourable consistency
Meen Kuzhambu is cooked in nallennai or gingelly oil. If it is not available, one can use any cooking oil.