Monday, October 15, 2007

A taste of India: Fish Curry from Goa

When I first saw this recipe on the Cumin and Coriander website I bookmarked it immediately. I love curry. I love seafood. And it was so simple I just couldn't see a way to talk myself out of trying it. So after it sat around in my recipe file for a while I finally got around to buying some fish (red snapper) and actually cooked, photographed and ate it last Thursday in the two hours between getting off work and going to class. That's just how quick and easy this recipe is. The only difficult part might be finding the tamarind paste-but I got some from my local Whole Foods, and you can find it online or at most Indian and Middle Eastern stores.

According to Stefanie of C&C, this curry is called Amotik or Ambotik and is usually made with shark. If you don't have any lying around your kitchen (I know I don't), another white fleshed, mild flavoured fish such as Tilapia or snapper can be used. You can also make it with shrimp or even squid. I'm going to see how catfish or cod work next time-the curry's flavour is pretty powerful, so a bland fish like cod might benefit from this dish. (I don't care what anyone says-cod is bland. Doesn't taste like a d**mn thing. Tofu of the sea, that's cod.)

One warning, however. If you don't like the taste of vinegar, if pickles turn you cold, sauerkraut makes you shudder and you run the other way at the sight of kim chee, you might not like this dish. That is because it contains quite a bit of vinegar (as befitting a hot and sour curry), which is absolutely essential to the character of the Amotik. On the other hand, if you are like me and love anything pickled or sour, you should definitely make this!

You can access the original recipe here: Amotik recipe on the Cumin and Coriander website, where you can also read all the great comments about the dish. And then you can scroll down and read mine.

Hot and Sour Goan Fish Curry: Amotik or Ambotik
(Courtesy of Cumin and Coriander)

Serves about 4 people. The entire recipe is only about 710 calories (with red snapper anyways), high in protein and low in fat. Enjoy!

I like my curries with lots of sauce so I doubled that part of the recipe. I recommend you try it with the amounts below-the sauce soaks into the rice and turns each grain into an experience all by itself. If it turns out to be more than you need you can always go with the original recipe next time.

For the Masala:

3 tsp chili powder (or more if you like it spicy)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 inch thumb of ginger, peeled
6 garlic cloves, peeled
8 tablespoons of vinegar (Stefanie doesn't say what kind of vinegar, so I used 4 tablespoons of white vinegar and 4 of red wine vinegar.)
Salt to taste

Everything else:

2 medium onions, peeled and sliced into thin slices crosswise
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil (Stefanie's version calls for 4 tablespoons, but it turned out fine with less oil, so I think I will stick with the lighter rendition. I used organic canola oil.)
About 3 1/2 cups water
About 1/2 to 2/3 pound or 4-500 grams of mild, white fleshed fish such as Tilapia, cut into 3 inch pieces
4 tsp tamarind paste
2 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in a tablespoon or two of water


1. Salt the cut up fish and leave in a bowl for half an hour.

2. Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, blend together all the ingredients listed under "masala".

3. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onion until golden. (You can see I didn't wait that long...)

Pour on the masala mixture and cook for a couple more minutes, then add the water and bring to a boil.

Rinse the fish to remove the excess salt and place the pieces carefully into the curry, making sure each one has room to cook and is covered with liquid. Simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add salt to taste and the 4 teaspoons of tamarind paste and simmer for a few more minutes. Check a piece of fish for doneness (it should flake apart easily), and add more tamarind, vinegar or a touch of hot sauce if desired. Pour in the cornstarch mixture and carefully stir to combine until the curry thickens slightly.

4. Serve with brown Basmati rice.

Thanks to Stefanie of Cumin and Coriander for a wonderful recipe! I look forward to seeing some more postings of recipes from Goa.


Stefanie said...

Hi Lyra, thanks for the heads up and your photos looks amazing!!! Really glad you enjoyed it.

Lyra said...

Yeah, my boyfriend hates vinegar and won't touch it so I have it all for myself he he...Its delicious! I was surprised that no tomatoes or tomato paste is used just seems like the kind of dish that would have a little tomato paste. I get the impression its a recipe that you can mess around with though.