Kerala Fish Molee
Kerala-style Fish in Mild Coconut Gravy
Dig into this delicately-spiced Indian fish curry redolent with fragrant masala using fresh fish and fresh coconut milk. Popular in the southern Indian state of Kerala, molee means stew. It is said to be influenced by Portuguese traders who left behind this recipe in exchange for Indian spices. Cooking is simplified to shallow panfrying and gentle stewing to yield a creamy, lip-smacking curry.
Total Time:30 minutes
Serves: 5 persons
A: To Marinate Fish
600g Red Snapper, cutlets
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon salt
B: Aromatics, Coconut Milk
½ tablespoon mustard seeds
2 stalks curry leaves, stem removed
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 head garlic, peeled and pounded to a paste
Thumb-sized ginger, peeled and finely chopped
300ml coconut milk, 2nd press
1 tablespoon cumin
½ tablespoon ground turmeric
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
200ml coconut milk, 1st press
C: For Garnish
½ tablespoon vinegar or lime juice
1 stalk cilantro, roughly chopped
1.Sprinkle fish with turmeric and salt.
2. Rub fish cutlets with marinade until they are evenly coated. Let fish soak in marinade for 10 minutes.
3. Heat up coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Put fish in and let it fry 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Set fish aside.
4. Next, add mustard seeds and let them pop. Toss in curry leaves and onion. Fry until leaves crisp up. Drain and set aside.
5. Add in ginger and garlic paste. Cook until aromatic, then pour in coconut milk, 2nd press. Add in ground turmeric and cumin. Simmer for 3 minutes.
6. Add in tomato, cooked fish followed by remaining coconut milk. Season with salt and sugar to taste.
7. Lower heat. Allow fish to simmer until it is fully cooked, approximately 6 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat.
8. Pour in vinegar and half tablespoon of coconut oil. Garnish with cilantro.
9. Apart from steamed rice, eat curry with Indian iddiyappam or string hoppers, Kerala puttu and appam (clockwise from left).
TIP: A meaty, fatty fish like Malabar trevally or golden pomfret is ideal for this robust curry. Look for firm meat. Alternatively, use red snapper cutlets. To save time, buy bottled garlic paste and ginger paste at Indian grocery shops.
TECHINIQUE: Panfrying fish before cooking not only adds a brown crust but it also prevents the fish from breaking up while stewing in coconut gravy.
Photos: By Pari Malar Thoraisingam