Gifts from the sea have arrived at our doorstep from generous neighbours throughout late summer and autumn. Kingfish made the most common appearance but we also had a monster-sized crayfish – which is a story for another day. Kingfish freezes well and, when added to a curry, you wouldn’t know the difference. Loaves of hot sourdough bread fresh from the oven have been gifted in return to say cheers for the kai moana.
The simple weeknight fish curry I share today uses a homemade curry paste base. The curry paste is versatile and can also be used with leftover roasted chicken, homemade paneer (recipe in my Homegrown Kitchen cookbook) or used for a vegetable curry with a selection of seasonal vegetables.
The curry paste can be made ahead or make a large batch by increasing the quantities and freeze into portions. Simply remove a portion in the morning to thaw then saute for dinner. Having this on hand makes for a quick weeknight meal.
The curry itself is on the mild side because my two rambunctious youth don’t particularly like hot spice. The parents in the house are partial to some heat but I keep the curry sauce mellow and make a fiery fresh chutney to accompany it of grated carrot, coconut, mint and chilli. If everyone in your house likes it hot then add a chilli to the curry paste.
*If you love Indian cuisine do check out my fellow food writer Ashia Ismail-Singer’s new cookbook, My Indian Kitchen. I have made numerous recipes from her book with delectable success.
WEEKNIGHT CURRY + Homemade: Curry Paste
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 cm ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ghee, clarified butter or oil
- 400 g can chopped tomatoes - I used a jar of home-preserved slow-roasted tomatoes
- ½ cup water
- 500 g white-fleshed fish; kingfish, kahawai or trevally are my top choices
- ½ cup coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve
Make the curry paste (increase the quantities to freeze extra into portions). Place the onion, garlic, ginger, spices and salt in a food processor and blend into a rough paste – add a splash of oil if needed to loosen the mixture.
Heat the ghee or oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat. Add the curry paste and cook for 8-10 minutes until golden and fragrant. Turn the heat down if the paste catches on the base of the pan. Add the chopped tomatoes and water and cook until the tomatoes are pulpy and the sauce has thickened. About 10 minutes.
Add the fish and coconut cream and continue to cook over moderate heat for about 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Stir through the lemon juice and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately with cardamom rice, fiery carrot & mint chutney and lemon wedges.
While sauteeing the curry paste prepare the rice. Wash 1 cup white basmati or jasmine rice in a sieve then tip into a saucepan. Add 1½ cups water plus 3 cardamom pods, cover with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil. As soon as the rice boils turn down the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, leaving the lid on to steam for a further 10 minutes. Add a knob of butter and fluff with a spoon.
Fiery Carrot & Coconut Chutney
I love adding a fresh chutney to a curry meal to bring extra piquancy.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
- ⅓ cup desiccated coconut
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely grated
- A handful of mint or coriander, finely chopped
- Juice of ½ lime or lemon
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- Salt to taste
Make the chutney while the curry cooks. Combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Check flavour adding more chilli if desired and salt to taste.