Assam is a place where you cannot avoid fish. It is as frequently eaten as perhaps idlis in Chennai, kebabs in Lucknow or vada pavs in Maharastra. We pride ourselves on having fertile waters for the fishes and a keen eye while picking out the best produce.
I put my Assamese mind to good use this time I was home. We were with a nice big aari maas (giant river catfish). This fish had no major bone except for the spine, so you fillet it nice and proper.
My mother does a mean traditional Assamese fish curry, but I told her I would make a very easy version of my own today. Here’s the recipe!
Prep time: 5 mins | Cooking time: 15-20 mins | Serves 2-3 people
- 600 grams of a boneless fish, filleted into 6-7 medium-sized pieces
- 2 fresh red chillies
- A two-inch stick of soft lemongrass stem
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- A one-inch piece of ginger
- A medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil (or any oil that can take a high heat)
- One and a half tablespoons of Thai Green Curry paste
- One tablespoon of fish sauce (or soy sauce, if you don’t have fish sauce)
- 500 ml warm water
- One teaspoon cumin powder
- One teaspoon coriander powder
- Half a teaspoon turmeric powder
- Two teaspoons of plain sugar
- Salt as required
- 150 ml of coconut milk
Chop the chillies, lemongrass, garlic and ginger together. Cut the fish into 6-7 medium pieces.
In a wok/large pan, add the sunflower oil to high heat followed by the chopped lemongrass mixture. Keep stirring and fry until the garlic is brown.
Add the green curry paste and fry for another two minutes, stirring all the while. Follow it up with the fish sauce.
Once the pan starts to dry a little bit, add the warm water and bring to a boil. Next, mix in the coriander, cumin and turmeric powders. Simmer with a covered lid for 3-4 minutes.
Add the fish pieces gently and raise the heat once more. Bring it to a boil, cover the pan again and cook for ten minutes on low. The curry should have a nice simmer now.
Now, add the sugar and taste-check if it needs some more salt or even a bit more sugar. It is essential to check now because you won’t be able to alter after adding the coconut milk.
Bring to a boil one last time and turn the heat off. Stir in the coconut milk and combine gently. Cover the pan and let it rest for another 2-3 minutes.
Garnish with some chopped coriander and serve over a bed of steamed rice.