Cherthala Fish Curry
Cherthala is a town located 30 km south of the city of Kochi and 22 km north of Alappuzha town on the Kochi-Alappuzha stretch of both the National Highway 47 as well as the costal Rail-route.
Cherthala got a distinct advantage being sandwiched between the Arabian Sea and the Vembanad lake. Thanneermukkam bund is also near to this place. It’s beautiful place with backwaters, coconut farms and small lakes. Main tourist attraction in Cherthala are Arthungal St Andrew's Basilica (Arthungal Church), Arthungal beach side, Andhakaranazhi beach, Thaneermukkam bund ... several homestay options also available.
With the availability of both Sea and Back water fishes through out the year, Cherthala is popular for the fish curry and other sea food preparation (Karimeen pollichathu, dishes made of Kakkaayirachi ..)
Here’s the recipe of traditional fish curry - spicy too !!! ( homestyle preparation, no added thickening agent / no extra branded fish masalas and less oil too). It goes well with Rice (especially the Kerala Brown rice), Appam, Idiyappam, Boiled and mashed Tapioca(Kappa)...
Note: You can use this recipe for any fish variety . Allow the curry to stand for at least 2 hours before serving so that the gravy and fish absorbs all the flavors.
Serves: 2 -3
1 tablespoon oil
5 shallots / chuvannulli , finely sliced
6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 green chilli, slit lengthwise
1 - inch piece ginger, finely sliced
1 spring curry leaves or 6 nos (dark green)
2 kudampuli, medium size or 3 small size(soak in 50 ml water for one hour. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Remove kudapampuli and strain and reserve water for cooking. It may 2 tablespoon water).
225 g fish pieces, medium size pieces (225 g net weight after cleaning)
100 ml – 125 ml (1/2 cup / 4 oz (Indian standard measuring cup) water
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
75 – 100 ml thick coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon uluva podi (methi powder / fenugreek powder)
2 level teaspoon red chilli powder (1 1/2 teaspoon for less spicy curry)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoon water
Dilute red chilli powder and turmeric powder in 2 tablespoon water and keep aside.
Wash and clean fish pieces. Wash till you get a clear water and finally add rock salt (kalluppu) and wash again. Drain out water thoroughly and wipe each fish piece with a kitchen towel. In a wide bowl, marinate fish pieces with1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder and ½ salt. Cover and keep aside for half an hour.
Heat oil in a meen chatty (preferably earthen pot) or pan. Add finely sliced small onion / shallots / chuvannulli. Fry on a medium heat till golden color.
Add sliced garlic, ginger, slit green chilli and curry leaves and fry till crisp and golden color.
Add diluted spice paste and stir on a low heat for 2 - 4 minutes or until the raw smell goes and water dries up.
Add kudampuli along with strained water (reserved 2 tablespoon water, in which kudampuli soaked) salt to taste and 1/2 cup water (100 - 125 ml). Stir all the ingredients well. Cover with a lid and cook on a low to medium heat for 5 - 7 minutes or until it boils.
At this stage, add marinated fish pieces gently (Level of the water should be equal to fish pieces. It should not be ½ to 1 ½ inch above fish pieces. Fish curry won’t be tasty if the gravy is too thin. Here final adjustment of the gravy is with thick coconut milk). Cover with a tight lid and cook on a medium to low heat for 8 – 10 minutes or until done / fish pieces well cooked / gravy slightly thickens (Cooking time depending upon the variety of fish). Switch off the heat . Sprinkle uluva podi. Now add 75 – 100 ml thick coconut milk and gently mix well. Consume the curry after one hour. Then it will absorb all flavours. Serve with Rice / Boiled tapioca / Appam …