The proximity of the Andhra city of Nellore to Chennai has left an imprint on Chennai’s culinary culture. I saw this influence closely when I moved to the city in 2000. Back then, there were not many good Kerala restaurants, so whenever I craved seafood, I would go to an Andhra restaurant for Nellore Fish Curry. It has a wonderful depth of flavour – tamarind and tomatoes give it acidity, and chillies add a pop of heat. Try it out and enjoy it with steamed rice.
- 1 cup fish cubes
- 2 tbsp red chilli powder
- 2 tbsp gingelly oil
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- ¼ tsp mustard seeds
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp fenugreek
- 8 shallots, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3-4 dried red chillies
- 3 ripe tomatoes, pureed
- 3 green chillies, slit
- 1 lemon-sized ball of tamarind
- 1 strip curry leaves
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp fenugreek
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dhaniya seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- Soak a lemon-sized ball of tamarind in 1 cup of water. After 15 minutes, mash it into a pulp.
- Heat a pan and roast the masala ingredients: cumin, mustard, fenugreek and dhaniya seeds. Grind to a powder.
- In another pan, heat gingelly oil and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek, dried red chillies and curry leaves. Fry until curry leaves are crisp.
- Toss in chopped garlic, slit green chillies and chopped shallots. Add green chillies according to your taste. Fry till lightly brown.
- Drop in the tomato puree, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and salt.
- With the pan covered, simmer the gravy for 30 minutes on low flame, stirring every 5 minutes, until the oil begins to float on top.
- Slip in the fish cubes, bring to a boil, pour in tamarind water and let it all cook for 15 minutes on low flame.
- Mix the ground masala powder into the fish curry. Simmer for a minute. Remove from heat and serve hot with rice.