My mom makes the best fish fry. OK, i know that sounds like such a generic statement. Let me personalise it and say that only mom makes the kind of fish fry i love. Even i can't cook a fish curry that i can eat. My dad loves fish among all the non-vegetarian options and somehow that did not pass on to me, unlike the sweet tooth and the general foodie thing. While fish curry (chepala pulusu) is the Andhra favourite, i cannot eat it with any hint of enthusiasm. Even when my grandma lovingly prepares it for me.
Seeing my reluctance with fish, mom devised this fish fry a few years ago - finally a fish dish that i can show some enthusiasm for, that i actually ask for a second helping of. It probably also helps that mom reserves the fish pieces with the least number of bones to make this fry. Makes me realise that my enthusiasm for fish curries is probably inversely proportional to the number of bones in the fish. Aren't you like that too?
And this recipe is not even remotely difficult, nor does it call for exotic ingredients. It probably has a slightly longer process than the other simple fish curries, but its really easy. It calls for marinating the fish in salt and chili powder, frying the fish pieces in oil, then preparing the dry gravy with onions and ginger garlic paste, finally adding the fried fish and spices. That's it, ready to mix with rice and devour. The fish absorbs all the flavour during marination. Excess oils in the fish skin (if the fish still has skin) will come off during the initial frying so that the final curry doesn't become too oily. This recipe works well for any white fish, probably other kinds of fish too, but we used white fish.
This is the first of mom's dishes from her kitchen clicked during my recent trip to Vijayawada as mentioned here.
- 500 grams white fish
- salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- oil for deep fry
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
- 2-3 sprigs curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon garam masala or fish masala powder
- fresh chopped coriander leaves for garnish
Wash the fish and drain all the water. Add salt, red chili powder and turmeric and rub gently into the fish pieces taking care not to crumble the fish. Marinate covered for 1 hour at room temperature. Heat about 150ml of oil in a wide kadai or deep pan over medium heat. Add 2-3 fish pieces (as many as will fit in the oil in a single layer) and fry for approximately 3 minutes each side or until golden brown. Remove to a plate and fry the remaining fish pieces in batches. Once all the fish pieces are fried, keep about 4-5 tablespoons of the oil in the pan and discard the remaining oil. (Be careful with the hot oil when you do this.) Continuing on medium heat, add mustard and cumin seeds and allow to splutter. Add the onions and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger garlic paste and curry leaves and fry for another minute.
Now add the previously fried fish pieces and mix gently with the gravy. Because the onions will add some sweetness, adjust the seasoning with salt, any additional red chili powder and some garam masala for the spiciness. Remove to a serving bowl, garnish with freshly chopped coriander and some tender curry leaves for a mouth-watering fish fry that tastes best with rice.