This classic Kerala fish curry is cooked in an earthenware pot that is called a “manchatti” in Malayalam. When I moved to Washington, my mom gave me a small manchatti which I used to cook the fish curry that you see in the picture. You can use any fresh, fleshy fish of your choice to make this dish. The curry tastes best the day after cooking it.
There are many variations to this dish as there are Malayalee homes! I say that because my red fish curry tastes a little different from my sister’s version. I use Kashmiri chillies to give it its bright red color and hot dry red chillies to give the dish heat. You can reduce the number of chillies to suit your taste buds. My son, likes his fish curry to be hot so the curry I make is very spicy.
Kerala Style Red Fish Curry
1 pound fish (any fleshy variety that you like)
14 dry hot red chillies
14 Kashmiri chillies
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 pinch fenugreek seeds
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tablespoons coconut oil
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
3 pieces of Malabar tamarind (puli)
2 cups water
salt to taste
In a small pan add the chillies, coriander, and fenugreek seeds and roast them over medium low heat. When they smell fragrant, remove, cool and powder in a spice grinder. Soak the Malabar tamarind in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain and dry on a paper towel.
Place the manchatti or pot on medium high heat. Add coconut oil and when the oil is hot add mustard seeds. When they splutter add curry leaves, ginger, garlic, shallots, and the Malabar tamarind. Fry for about 30 seconds and then add the powdered spices. Immediately add 2 cups of water and salt. Stir well and when it boils add the pieces of fish. Turn the heat to medium low and cook until the pieces are done and the gravy thickens.