Meen Moilee (Fish in Fragrant Coconut Milk)

When I said we went all out with the seafood plan last Friday evening, I meant it. There was Patra ni Machchi, there were some scrumptious (and that’s almost my favourite adjective, isn’t it?) prawns and there was Meen Moilee.

Meen Moilee is a traditional fish curry from Kerala, made with dry spices and coconut milk. It is a mildly spicy recipe, the coconut milk adding a touch of sweetness and the kokum adding a tangyness. Meen in Sanskrit is fish. I’m assuming it is the word in Malayalam for fish too. And this is about the only picture I managed to get of it that evening.

My mum and I bought four whole pomfret fish for the Patra ni Machchi and used the central portion and the tail pieces for the steamed fish. So we were left with several pieces of the head and some chunks from the rear body of the fish. We used those for the curry.

Ingredients:

For the curry:
1. 2 medium sized onions finely chopped
2. 8-10 cloves of garlic, ground to a paste
3. Freshly grated ginger, almost as much in quantity as the garlic
4. 5-6 green chilies, or more if you like it hot
5. 7-8 pieces of kokuma (alternatelym you could use some tamarind paste diluted with water to give a teaspoon of juice)
6. Juice of one lemon
7. 8-10 curry leaves
8. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
9. 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (less or more depending on how many green chillies you used and how spicy you would like the curry)
10. 12-15 triphalas (they look like large-ish seeds and are round.
11. 1 cup coconut milk (add more, if you like the curry milder)
12. Your choice of oil (coconut or vegetable) to cook
13. Salt to taste
14. Your choice of fish, cut into pieces a couple of inches big

Method:
1. Marinate the fish in lemon juice, red chili powder, turmeric and salt and leave a side for 2 hours.
2. Heat some oil in a round bottomed vessel and add the ginger-garlic, chopped onions, curry leaves and green chillies.
3. Throw in the triphala and cook for a few minutes. If you don’t have triphala seeds, you can use a mixture of 3-4 pieces of cardamom, a small stick of cinnamon and a few cloves, instead.
4. When the onions are a light brown, add the pieces of fish and mix them in gently.
5. Now add the coconut milk and some water and stir.
6. Bring the curry to a boil and ensure that the fish is cooked.
7. Add a dash of lemon, if you like.

P.S.: The translation “Fish in Fragrant Coconut Milk” is what the guys on Food Network use. So, well, why not I just stick to that.

Kokum is a coastal Indian fruit known for its tangy and strong flavour. It is the kind that gives you a kick in the throat, when you take your first bite/sip. De-seeded kokum fruit can be used to make kokum kadhi or sol kadhi. All it takes it fresh coconut milk (not the powder you mix with water), crushed garlic, extract from the kokum fruit and coriander leaves.

Also, if you don’t like whole spices getting into your food, you can take them out around step 4, when their flavours have been incorporated into the cooked mixture.

Meen Moilee goes best with sticky white or brown rice. It is a fairly thin curry and might not be as well appreciated with bread, as it is with rice.

Eat away!

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