Kerala is a beautiful, verdant coastal region and its food is a s abundant as the waters of the Arabian sea that laps it. If you look at Kerala on the Indian map, it looks like a languishing green chilli along the coast and I find a similar sense of serenity in the people. When you visit Kerala, it does seem as though time slows down, whether you are on a houseboat, slowly gliding along the backwater canals, stopping for a bite to eat at one of the restaurants bordering the canals, or staying in one of the many Ayurevedic spas. It is full of character, but it isn’t brash.

Anjum Anand’s Fish Pappas (fish curry) is a little like that; full of delicious coastal flavours (fish, curry leaves, coconut), even green chillies and other spices, but with nothing harsh about it, It is comforting enough for everyday, but elegant enough to serve to friends. Serve with simple, perfect rice, or Tamil-style lemon rice.

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Ingredients (serves 4)

  • For the marinade: 600g halibut, cut into large pieces
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely grated
  • 10g grated root ginger, juice squeezed out (discard the fibers)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • For the sauce: 5 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil, plus 2 tbsp for the fish
  • ⅔ tsp brown mustard seeds
  • ⅓ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 15 curry leaves, fresh if possible
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 30g finely chopped or grated root ginger
  • 1 Large tomato
  • 45g (10-11) large garlic cloves
  • 2/3 tsp ground tumeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground fennel seed
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 4-6 small Indian green chillies, stalks removed and pricked with a knife
  • 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp white wine or other vinegar
  • 50g (3 generous tbsp) coconut cream

Method

  1. Marinate the fish with all the remaining ingredients on the list and 2 good pinches of salt and leave for 20 minutes or so.
  2. Heat the 5 tbsp oil in a large non-stick saucepan. Add the mustard and fenugreek seeds. Once the popping slows down, add the curry leaves. Follow within 10 seconds with the onions and some salt. Cook until soft and just turning colour. Add the ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  3. As the onions cook, blend the tomato and garlic until smooth. Add to the ginger along with the powdered spices and a splash of water. Cook until the paste releases oil back into the pan, a good 8 – 10 minutes or so. Then stir fry the paste for another couple minutes. Taste: the garlic should be cooked and it should taste harmonious and a bit salty at this stage.
  4. Add the coconut milk and chillies, bring to the boil, cover and cook for 4 – 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and add the fish; you might have to do this in 2 batches. Fry over a medium – high heat until lightly golden on both sides. Place on a plate and repeat with the second batch. It shouldn’t take more tan 2 – 3 minutes in total for each batch.
  5. Add 1½ cups of water to the saucepot, along with the vinegar, and bring to the boil. Cook for 4 – 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Add the fish and coconut cream to the pot and cook for 3 – 5 minutes more, turning the pieces of fish halfway through. The fish should be cooked and the sauce should be creamy.

Notes... Serve with simple, perfect rice, or Tamil-style lemon rice.
From Anjum Anand's newest book 'I Love India'. Available now online or in all good bookstores.

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  • What a wonderful recipe – the aromatics are making my mouth water.

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  • Thanks for the recipe; so much flavour and looks delicious.

    Reply


  • I can taste this in my mouth just reading it

    Reply


  • Interesting information about the country. Interested in trying out the recipe and hopefully it works out for me.

    Reply


  • Looks great!

    Reply


  • There are plenty of ingredients though this looks great I like so many of the ingredients I would love to try this thanks for sharing!

    Reply


  • Oh wow, these sound amazing but look a bit tricky to make!

    Reply


  • So many ingredients – a bit scary for e.

    Reply


  • I love a good curry & this sounds like one I have to try! Shopping list is completed so I’ll be ready to have a go tomorrow! Thanks for the recipe!

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  • I wish i had the time but there is just too many ingredients here to buy and make
    Sounds lovely tho

    Reply


  • oh wow this sounds very appealing, both the meal and the place – thank you for sharing such a wonderful sounding recipe

    Reply


  • What a nice description of the Kerala region you made. The perfect introduction to a beautiful dish. :-)


    • I love the description too – I wish many recipes had such beautiful intros.

    Reply


  • A bit too much going on here for me.

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  • Love indian food but not fish

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  • I adore eating Indian food and this recipe looks incredible – thank you! I am going to check out this book when I am next at the book shop! :)

    Reply

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