Meen Vattichathu (Hot & Tangy Fish Curry)
Meen Vattichathu is a fish dish specific to Kerala. As the English name suggests, it is hot with lots of chillies and tangy with lots of cocum. The curry is usually served with rice as a side dish or as an accompaniment with tapioca or even with vattayappam or you can savor it with whatever you feel is appropriate.
I have given a slight twist to this fish curry; tomatoes are not part of the basic recipe, but i have added them to give a thicker consistency to the gravy and to reduce the heat of the chillies. A tablespoon or two of coconut milk is another option to reduce the heat (the taste doesn't change with both these options but enhances the taste as per our tastebuds).
In Kerala, fish curries are usually prepared using an earthen pot......and i have followed the protocol :-)
fish, marinated with 1/2 tsp each salt, turmeric and chiily powder - 500 gms
small onion - 8 + 3
ginger - 2 inch piece
green chilly - 2 (kanthari mulaku gives a very good taste but beware of the side effects)
mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
curry leaf- 2 sprigs
cocum - 4 - 5 medium sized
chilly powder - 3 tsp
turmeric powder - 3/4 tsp
tomato - 1
salt to taste
Oil, preferably coconut oil - 3 tbsp
Pound the 8 small onions, ginger, mustard, fenugreek and chillies (alternatively these ingredients may be crushed in the mixer for 1 second). Keep it aside.
Heat oil in a pan and add the 3 chopped small onion. When light brown add the pound onion mixture. Saute till it turns light brown. Reduce the heat. Add curry leaves, turmeric powder and chilly powder. In low flame continue stirring the chilly powder till the sizzling almost stops. Add the chopped tomato and stir till it is soft. Add 1/2 cup water and cocum. Let it boil for ten minutes in medium flame. Add the fish pieces and salt. Hold the pot on either side and give a lightly swirl to mix the gravy with the fish or lightly stir. Continue boiling in medium flame until the fish is cooked. The time required to cook varies according the texture of the fish. Serve after 2-3 hours.