Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

31.10.11

Fish. Cashews. Raisins.

In a pan, soften two very finely chopped onions in oil. Add some ghee for a richer flavour.

Place a dozen cashews, one large can of coconut cream, a teaspoon of chili, a knob of peeled and chopped ginger the size of your thumb, a large clove of garlic (or two small), half a teaspoon each of cinnamon and garam masala, two cardamom pods and a couple of rays of star anise (optional) into a food processor. Hit ‘turbo’. Watch as the colours homogenise. Listen as the initial nut grind goes into a high-pitched turbine-smooth whizz. Twenty seconds and you will have a pinkish beige sludge flecked with small pieces of cashew. The aroma will make you want to spoon it out of the processor and eat it now.

Steep a couple of tablespoons of raisins in hot water to which you have added a teaspoon of turmeric. Remove half of the onion from the pan, reserve.

Transfer cashew and coconut cream mixture to the pan. Drain the raisins and add. Stir and cook very gently for ten minutes. Add a little water if necessary. Now add half a kilogram of any fish in one-inch cubes, which you have dredged through salt and papper. This kind of recipe usually calls for white-fleshed fish, but I have used salmon and, another time, squid; and each was very good.

Cook only until fish is done. Then switch off, let it rest for a few minutes and serve over rice. Add reserved onion, serve with yogurt and coriander mixture (stir chopped coriander through plain yogurt) and warm fenugreek roti.

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If you have the ingredients, all of this takes less time than driving to the supermarket to buy one of those jar sauces, which are generally dreadful. Dial up or down the chili level with more powder or by adding hot mango pickle. Sometimes I add the drained raisins to the rice.

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