Friday, 7 September 2012

Kari Ikan, Malaysian Fish Curry

Kari Ikan, Malaysian Fish Curry

This unique fish dish is one of the most popular fish dish all over Malaysia. No wonder, it heads the fish menu of any restaurant you step in. It is cooked in almost all household more than once a week. This dish is also found on the menu card of speciality restaurants outside Malaysia. An amazing curry made with fresh fish and Okra is generally eaten with simple white rice. The best thing of this dish is, it is simple and easy to prepare.

Preparation Time :  20 minutes (more if you make fresh coconut milk)
Cooking Time      :  30 - 35 minutes
Difficulty              :  Easy
Serves                  :  4

Ingredients :

  • 5 Garlic cloves 
  • 1 medium Onion 
  • 3 tablespoons Fish Curry powder (See Note)
  • 3 tablespoons Dried Tamarind
  • 2 1/4 cups or 560 mils Water
  • 4 tablespoons Oil (use any vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon Black Mustard Seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • 1 stalk Curry leaf
  • 2 medium Tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 500 g Grouper / Trevally / Black Pomfret
  • 10 Okra/ Ladies finger, stalk ends removed
  • 2 Green Chilies, halved lengthwise
  • 125 ml Coconut Milk (use can make fresh or use packaged ones)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt


    Method :

     1) Process garlic and onion to a smooth paste in a spice blender, adding a little oil if needed to keep the mixture turning,set aside.
     2) Mix curry powder with 4 tbsp water to form a paste,set aside.
     3) Soak tamarind pulp in 500ml (2 cups) of water for 5 minutes, then squeeze and strain to obtain juice, strain the juice properly and set aside.
     4) Heat a deep pan on medium - high heat. When sufficiently hot, add the oil.
     5) Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, fenugreek, cumin seeds and curry leaves.
     Fry until mustard seeds start to pop (around 30 seconds), immediately simmer, otherwise the spices will burn and add a bitter taste.
     6) Now, add the garlic onion paste to the spices, increase the heat and stir fry  until mixture smells fragrant and starts to brown (about 5 minutes). In between you can keep sprinkling water, about 1 teaspoon at a time, so that the masalas get fried properly and don't burn.
     7) Now add prepared curry paste and cook over low heat until dry and oil starts to separate (about 8 to 10 minutes).
     8) When you see the oil oozing from the sides, add tamarind juice and bring to a boil.
     9) Now add fish and okras, tomatoes, chillies, coconut milk, salt.
     10) Turn the heat to simmer. Gently cook about 10 minutes (or until fish and okras are cooked through).

    Note :

    The Malay Fish Curry Powder; is one of the things I bought from Malaysia. At home,  I checked the ingredients list and after a couple of little trial and errors, I came up with this. And I can assure you, it is a pretty close to the packaged powder I bought ! In Malay cuisine, curry powder/masala is a blend of sweet and pungent spices. Now with this recipe, you can prepare your own Curry powder at home.
    • 1/2 cup Coriander seeds 
    • 1 tablespoon Clove
    • 1 tablespoon Fennel seeds
    • 1 tablespoon Black Mustard Seeds
    • 3 tablespoons Fenugreek seeds
    • 2 tablespoons Black Pepper corns
    • 3 small Dried hot Red Chilies, seeds and stems removed (leave the seeds if you want your curry to be hot)
    • 3 tablespoons Cumin seeds
    • 1/4 cup Ground Cardamom
    • 1/4 cup Turmeric Powder 
    • 1 tablespoon Ground Dried Ginger 
    • 2 Curry leaves, chopped into small pieces

      1) Place all the whole seeds in a frying pan and dry roast for a minute or two, until they become pungent and release their fragrance.

      2) Cool them slightly and then place them in a food processor or coffee grinder and pulse until they are finely ground - or grind them with a pestle and mortar.

      3) Add the remaining ground spices, including the chillies and the curry leaves, to the roasted spices and mix well.

      4) Store in an airtight jar or tin for up to 6 months, in a dry, cool and dark place.

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