750 g/1 1/2 lb fish steaks
6 large dried red chillies
preferably Goan or Kashmiri type
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
4 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
2 tablespoons ghee or oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
375 ml/12 fl oz/11/2 cups coconut milk
11/2 teaspoons salt
Wash fish, rub over with lemon juice, salt and pepper and set aside. Soak the chillies in hot water for 10 minutes.
In a dry pan roast the coconut, stirring constantly, until brown. Remove coconut and dry roast the coriander, cumin and fenugreek seeds, shaking pan or stirring, until brown. Put soaked chillies, coconut, spices, garlic and ginger into electric blender and blend to a smooth paste, adding a little water if necessary. Soak tamarind pulp in 1/2 cup hot water, squeeze to dissolve pulp, strain.
Heat ghee or oil in a heavy saucepan and fry the onion until soft. Add the blended mixture and fry on medium heat, stirring until it darkens in color and smells cooked. Add the coconut milk, salt, tamarind liquid and bring slowly to simmering point, stirring to prevent curdling. Add the fish and simmer, uncovered, until fish is cooked. Serve with rice.
Note: Ground coriander, cumin and fenugreek may be used instead of whole seeds, but first roast them on low heat to intensify the flavors, stirring constantly and taking care that they do not burn.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)