Thursday, 3 September 2009

Curried Fish Fillets in a Yogurt Sauce

I was in a curry rut.
Too used to making curry my own (same) way, or couple of ways, I decided to branch out a bit and try a book that had been recommended to me, 660 Curries.
What an inspiration! The author, Raghavan Iyer, covers the diverse Indian regions and palates, as well as breaking down the flavouring combinations and terms for any non-native cooks. He is the Indian Mark Bittman, to be sure.
With over 700 hundred pages, this book is a treasure trove of inspiration. No more curry rut for me!

This is the first dish I have tried, a curried fish dish in a yogurt sauce. It was so delicious and incredibly fragrant. A good curry is like incense in the home, I couldn't stop sniffing the air with pleasure.

Tilapia with a Yogurt Sauce
Raghavan Iyer, 660 Curries

1/2 tsp ground turmeric (I used more)
1 pound skinless tilapia fillets (my fillets were haddock)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp white granulated sugar
1 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt
2 tbsp mustard oil or canola oil
1 tbsp Panch phoron (see below)
2 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, stems removed
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems for garnishing

1. Sprinkle the turmeric over both sides of the fillets and rub it in. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes, or as long as overnight, to allow the spice to flavour and colour the fillets.
2. Whisk the yogurt, sugar, and salt together in a bowl.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the Panch phoron and dried chiles. Cook until the spices sizzle and are aromatic, and the chiles blacken, 15 to 20 seconds. Immediately add the fillets and sear them on both sides on the bed of the roasted spices, 30 seconds per side. Transfer the fish to a plate.
4. Add the onion and ginger to the skillet and stir-fry, scraping the skillet to release any brown bits of fish, until the onion is light brown around the edges, about 2 minutes.
5. Pour in the yogurt mixture and stir to incorporate the onion mixture into it. Bring the sauce to a boil, and add the fillets. Spoon the sauce over the fillets and poach them, uncovered, until the fish is barely starting to flake, 3 to 5 minutes.
6. Sprinkle with the cilantro, and serve.

Panch Phoron
Bengali 5-Spice Blend
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
1 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds

Thoroughly combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and transfer them to a tightly sealed container. Store them in your pantry, away from excess light, heat and humidity for up to a year.

*I served the curry with basmati rice, on a bed of baby spinach. There are a couple of yellow beans in there too, as my plant had produced half a dozen nice ones, I just cut them into 1/2 inch pieces and cooked them with the fish.