For some reason I’ve always dismissed curry as too complicated – to cook, I mean. Then Tom (when he was wooing me) made me this coconut fish curry, which was quite simply sublime. I mean, I couldn’t quite believe how utterly delicious it was.
For ages I revelled in not knowing how to make it, which meant that Tom had to cook it, leaving me free to lie on the sofa reading. However, I decided that 2015 was the year that I would combat my curry fear, so last night we made it together.
And if you, too, fear the curry, then I am here to spread the good news: you need fear no more. This curry is really, really simple. But still sublime, nonetheless, and the perfect solution to Friday night curry cravings.
We served it with roasted aubergines drizzled with a dressing of home-made yoghurt with coriander, chilli and a dash of extra virgin olive oil. Plus green beans and tender stem broccoli, steamed then quickly fried in olive oil, mustard seed, garlic and a tea spoon of garam masala.
Poppadoms, naan bread and rice optional would have been great too. But you cannot have everything (more is the pity).
2 medium onions
A whole (medium) head of garlic, peeled (don’t be spooked by this – it sounds preposterous but honestly is not overpowering)
2 large thumb sized chunks (about 3 inch/1.5 inches) of ginger, peeled
1 de-seeded red chilli finely chopped (this is to taste, so less if you don’t like it hot, with seeds if you do)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
3 teaspoons garam masala
Half a lime
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cans coconut milk (you could use low fat if you prefer)
6 fillets of salmon (about 750g in total). You could use any kind of fish, but ideally use a firmer fish so it doesn’t disintegrate).
1 tablespoon coriander
Blitz together the onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor into a paste. If you don’t have a food processor, chop as finely as you can by hand, into a paste.
Dry fry the cumin, coriander, mustard, fennel seeds on a medium to high heat, keeping an eye on it. When you can smell the flavours and it starts to slightly smoke and pop, put them into a pestle and mortar and grind into a powder (rolling rather than pounding). This sounds like a faff but the flavours are so much more intense and fragrant than ready ground powders that it’s really worth doing. Add the turmeric, and the garam masala (which just means ‘mixed spice’, so varies, but usually has things like cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, which spices things up even more) and a generous pinch of Maldon sea salt. Add 2 tablespoons oil to the powder and stir to create a thick paste.
Put a splash of vegetable oil into a large pan (we use a non-stick wok-pan which is good for stirring but any would do). Fry the onion/garlic/ginger mix on a medium heat, stirring gently, for five minutes or so. Add the paste. At this point your kitchen will be infused with intensely delicious curry flavours that seriously excite the palate! Turn down the heat a tad and stir gently for another few minutes – you want the onions to be cooked.
Once they are cooked, pour in the coconut milk, add the chopped chilli and a squeeze of lime juice, and bring up to a simmer. Turn down and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Taste it at this point, and season to taste.
If you have people coming over and want to be organised, you can do all of the above in advance, turn off the heat then just leave it for a couple of hours to be heated up in order to cook the fish.
If you are pushing on, this is a good moment to chop the salmon into smallish – about half inch – chunks and put into the spicy coconut milk. After a couple of minutes add most of the coriander, very finely chopped. Then cook for about ten minutes – or until the fish is cooked.
Serve garnished with the remaining coriander, roughly chopped. That’s it!