I still haven't got to the stage where I can make the "man chatti meen kozhambu" the way it's made down south - this is usually made in an earthen vessel and has only tamarind as the base. Tastes exquisite the next day. Its a combination of the sesame oil, local fish flavour and addition of just the right amount of spices, cooked for just the right time.A little like these delicious vegetarian kozhambus which I got better at making, over time and with practice.
But I was really hankering for that kind of kozhambu and also having been told to increase my protein intake, so need to include fish as well in my diet. Since I couldn't risk the curry becoming very spicy (now that I am eating food which is a bit blander than our normal) I decided to add coconut milk to the kozhambu to finish it off and ensure the sourness and spice was tempered. It turned out really well and I loved the flavours of the fish, the tamarind and the coconut milk. I would have usually used seer fish (surmai or king mackerel) but this time I had sole at home, so thats what I used.
Tangy Fish Curry - Meen Kozhambu
Sole Fish (Sear/King fish) - 350-400gms cut into 2" pieces
Tamarind extract - from 1 small lemon sized ball in 1.5 cups of water
Coconut Milk - 1 cup( I used fresh, canned is fine, but maybe a little lesser in quantity)
Sesame oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - pinch
Curry leaves - a handful
Onion - 1 medium sliced
Garlic - 3 cloves sliced
Green chillies - 2 slit
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Kashmiri chilli powder - 1 /2 tsp (optional)
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
salt to taste
1. Clean the fish, marinate with the turmeric powder and a little salt for about half an hour.
2. Heat the oil in a wide pan and add mustard seeds, when they pop, add the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves.
3. Put in the sliced onions, garlic and green chillies and saute 4 minutes till onions are softened.
4. Add the red chilli powders, salt and tamarind extract and simmer for 10 minutes or till the raw smell goes away.
5. Add the fish pieces and coconut milk and simmer 8-10 minutes till the fish is just cooked, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.
6. Serve with steamed rice.