If you are from Malabar, then you definitely need to know your fish curry well. Making the mulakittathu – the red fish curry, which I have already shared two versions here and here, is literally a cake walk but getting the varutharachathu right is a little difficult task. “Varutharachathu” literally means “roasted and ground”. The base of such curries is a roasted-till-brown coconut along with some spices, and ground till smooth. I already have a few varutharacha curries on the blog:
I have always felt that getting the consistency right for the fish curry is important. As for the meat curries, you can add water and dilute it, but for fish, the flavor itself goes off, especially since we add turmeric. The next is the challenge of making limited amount, since I serve folks who have pigeon stomachs. 😕 How much little I make, there are still leftovers and finally I have to have them over a few days to finish them, nobody would cooperate with me in this regard. How much I hate that! I have watched umma make this curry so effortlessly, but never with quantity. I tried making it by referring to Ummi Abdullah’s Malabar Cookery but my curry became so pasty, but tasted amazing. I then twisted and tweaked the same recipe a couple of times till I got the consistency that we loved. Not thick, not too thin, with the correct flavors of the roasted masala and the tamarind. I had to record it so that I can make it again. Alas, I perfected it the week before the doctor converted me into a vegan! 😀 So I can’t wait to make them again once my medication ends soon, InShaAllah… I made the curry in umma’s small chatti and this was perfect for both of us and the kids, as we eat very little rice. 🙂 Off to the recipe…
Varutharacha Meen Curry ~ Malabar Fish Curry with Roasted Coconut
- 2 large sardines or 4 small sardines, cut
- A lime size tamarind soaked in 1/2 cup hot water for 15 minutes
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 small onion minced
- 2 green chillies minced
- 3/4 tsp ginger garlic paste
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 to mato chopped
- Salt to taste
- Curry leaves for garnish
- FOR GROUND MASALA:
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1/4 cup grated coconut
- 2 shallots chopped
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/4 cup water for grinding
- For the ground masala, Heat oil in a small saucepan. Roast the coconut, shallots and fennel till browned. Ensure not to burn.
- Allow to cool and then grind into a paste with the water.
- Heat oil in a chatti (earthen pot). Add the fenugreek seeds. As it starts smelling fragrant, add in the onion and chillies and saute till wilted.
- Add the ginger garlic paste and saute till the raw smell is gone.
- Squeeze out the tamarind well and pour the water into the mixture. Add another 1/2 cup of water and squeeze the tamarind again. Pour the water in and discard the tamarind.
- Add in the powders and tomato, mix well and allow the mixture to boil. Add salt.
- Add the fish and cook till done.
- At this stage, add the coconut paste and simmer for five minutes. Add the curry leaves and switch off.
- Serve hot with steaming rice and any vegetarian side!