This delicious fish curry is based on a recipe by Bill Granger, aptly found in delicious magazine, and is perfect for an easy weekend dinner. I have adapted the quantities for the spice paste – what the Indonesians call the bumbu – as we like lots of ginger but a bit less tamarind, which is a strong flavour and can overwhelm the delicate taste of fish. There is a bit more spice paste here than you need, but it is tricky to make in very small quantities. It will keep for a couple of days in a sealed contained in the fridge and the leftover paste is useful to have on hand for a curry-in-a-hurry in the week ahead. A microplane grater makes easy work of grating the ginger, but you could just chop it finely if you don’t have one.
We also added some cherry tomatoes to add freshness and texture, and some sliced red chilli as a garnish, but these are far from essential if you don’t have any to hand. These quantities make enough for two (plus one additional portion of spice paste).
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 dried chilli (or 1 tsp chilli flakes)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp mild olive oil (plus a little for the bumbu)
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp black mustard seeds
4 dried curry leaves
200g potatoes (new or Maris Piper)
200g chopped tinned tomatoes
6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half (optional)
150-200ml stock (fish or vegetable)
100ml coconut cream
300g firm white fish fillets (I used hake)
Big handful of coriander, chopped
1 red chilli, sliced (optional)
Lime wedges to serve
Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a small dry frying pan for a few minutes until you can smell them. Tip into a pestle and grind them, crumbling in the dried chilli or chilli flakes as you go. Mix with the turmeric, tamarind paste, garlic and ginger, adding a little oil to make a paste.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan with a lid. Gently fry the onions, adding the mustard seeds and curry leaves as they soften. After about 8 minutes, when the onions are soft and golden, add two-thirds of the bumbu (putting the rest in the fridge for another day) and fry for another two minutes. Cut the potatoes into chunks. Add the potatoes, the chopped and cherry tomatoes, stock and coconut cream to the pan and stir everything together. Bring to a simmer, cover with the lid and cook until the potatoes are tender (about 15-20 minutes – don’t be impatient about this, underdone potatoes are horrid)., by which time the sauce will have thickened a bit. Cut the fish into 3cm chunks and place on top of the sauce. Cover with the lid and cook for 3 minutes, by which time the fish should be opaque and just cooked through.
Serve with basmati or jasmine rice, with the coriander and sliced chilli sprinkled over the top and a lime wedge to squeeze over it. Steamed green beans, pak choi or broccoli make a good accompaniment.