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Achari Tamarind Fish Curry

By Sumayya Usmani •


Continuing our look at fish for National Fishing MonthGreat British Chefs guest blogger, Sumayya Usmani better known as the Pukka Paki, recalls some childhood memories of fishing and crabbing trips.  She also shares a delicious recipe for Achari Tamarind Fish Curry -  a spicy and pickle flavoured Pakistani fish curry.

 

Blog post & photography by Sumayya Jamil aka Pukka Paki 

Growing up in a coastal city where I was blessed with seawater treasures of the Arabian sea and a country with freshwater fish sourced from the beautiful River Indus – which is steeped in history of the first civilizations known as the Indus Valley civilization. Fishing is one of the main livelihoods of the coastal people. We are lucky enough to source juicy jumbo prawns, crabs, lobster and some regional fish like the Pomfert and Barracuda from the Arabian sea and Pallah fish from the rivers in Hyderabad.

When most people think of Pakistani food they only ever think of meat based dishes but surprisingly our seafood cuisine is rich and the recipes are unique from Indian ones. Lahori fried fish is a local street food delicacy which is coasted with a delicious batter and fried and also spicy prawn karahi’s. My best memories are of crabbing trips from Karachi port where you head out on a boat to catch crabs, which are then prepared for you in a delicious red chili cumin and lemon based masala.

I share with you a recipe of a fish curry, this is one that I grew up with in my home. This recipe is borne from the love of pickle or “achar” as it’s called in Urdu, a condiment that few Pakistani dining tables would be without. We would go to the fish bazaar in the morning the fish would have only just arrived from the fisheries and be on our plates within a few hours – that’s the beauty of living by a coastal town! This is a dish that brings those ‘achari’ flavours into a fish curry, best made with a solid white fish like halibut or hake – white fish allows the achari flavours to be infused into the fish. The curry itself is not a very watery one.

 

Ingredients

½ kilo/500 grams of white solid fleshed fish (with bone and skin)

Marinate fish in:

Juice of one large lemon

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp sea salt flakes

1 tsp Kashimiri chilli powder or paste (if unavailable, then add just ½ red chilli powder

1 tbsp of tamarind paste

½ cup of sunflower oil

1 large onion, chopped into half moons

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp nigella seeds

1-2 dried whole red chilli

1 whole green chilli

2 tsp garlic paste

1 ½  tsp ginger paste

1 tbsp of lime pickle, chopped up

½ cup natural yoghurt

Grind roughly together:

1 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp coriander seeds

¼ tsp fenugreek seeds

½ tsp mustard seeds

Some water

Serves 3-5 people, depending on  this size of the fish pieces and takes about 45-60 minutes to prepare and cook

Method

1.     Marinate the fish in the marinade spices as above and leave for about 1 hour.

2.     Heat the oil in a wok-style pan on medium heat and fry the onions until medium brown and cooked through. Drain on some kitchen paper and keep aside.

3.     Using the same oil, pop in all the onion and cumin seeds and dried red chilli only. When they start to splutter, add the ginger and garlic and cook until light brown, do not let the ginger and garlic burn. Add the lime pickle now and red and green chillis.

4.     Next add the yogurt and cook on medium heat until the oil separates from the curry sauce and the yogurt is cooked through. Add a splash a water if you feel the curry is getting too thick. Add the fish and onions and cover and cook on low heat until fish is nearly cooked through.

5.     Now sprinkle the ground seeds and leave on low heat, covered. Cook for another 2-3 minutes (until the fish is cooked though) on very low heat.

6.     Serve with plain boiled fragrant Basmati rice or naan bread.

Blog post & photography by Sumayya Jamil aka Pukka Paki 

You can find more delicious fish & seafood recipes on Great British Chefs site.

Do you have a favourite fish curry or fish stew dish?  Let us know over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.

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Sumayya Usmani

Sumayya Usmani is a London-based food writer and cookery teacher who specialises in Pakistani cuisine. She contributes to many UK-based food magazines and is currently writing a memoir-style cookbook on Pakistani cuisine, called Summers Under the Tamarind Tree, to be published in Spring 2016. Sumayya also hosts cookery classes at Sophie Grigsons’ Cook School, Oxford and Divertimenti Cookery School, London. Her website is www.mytamarindkitchen.com - @MyTamarindKtchn

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