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Fish curry – light and spicy, perfect for Summer.

17 Jul

 I am not a lover of fish in curry, except for prawns that is.  My husband feels the same way, unusual as he loves curry of all kinds.  When I first saw this recipe I was struck by the fact that I loved all the ingredients.  It promised it was not too spicy and, as it was also low in fat, I decided to give it a try.  Thank God I did as this has to be one of the most delicious curry I have ever tasted.

The sauce contains coconut milk so I thought I would try to find some trivia about coconuts.  (ref:

  • Near Port Royal, Jamaica a stone monument on the Palisadoes commemorates the planting of the first coconut tree on the island on March 4, 1869 by John Norton, the Superintendent of the General Penitentiary.  Over the next 20 years, 20,000 coconut trees had been planted. Disease eventually destroyed all of the Palisadoes coconut trees.
  • Falling coconuts kill 150 people every year – 10 times the number of people killed by sharks.
  • Coconut oil was the world’s leading vegetable oil until soybean oil took over in the 1960s.
  • There are more than 20 billion coconuts produced each year.
  • Coconut juice or coconut water is the liquid inside a coconut. Coconut milk is produced by steeping grated coconut in hot water then straining; coconut cream is coconut milk cooked down until it thickens, or grated coconut steeped in hot milk instead of water.

Here is the recipe.  Serve with basmati rice and a tomato and cucumber salad on the side.

Fish curry                                                Serves 2 (easily doubled)

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, very thinly sliced
  • 4 vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 – 1.5 tbsp madras curry paste (depending on how hot you want it)
  • 100 ml coconut milk
  • handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 300g cod, skinned and cut into large pieces
  • 2 tbsp pl flour
  1. Heat half the oil in a pan and cook the onions with a pinch of salt over a medium heat until soft and just starting to change colour.
  2. Put the tomatoes, garlic and ginger in a food processor and whizz until smooth.
  3. Add the curry paste to the onions and fry for a couple of minutes.  Stir in the tomato mixture and simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.  Add the coconut milk and coriander.
  4. Dust the fish with the flour, shaking off excess and season.  Heat the remaining oil in a non-stick pan and fry the fish over a high heat for 1 minute on each side so they are light brown.  Carefully transfer the fish to the tomato sauce and cook for about 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked through (will depend on thickness of fillets).  Serve immediately.

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Prawn Balti – what a fantastic curry!

24 Apr

There are times when only a curry will do and last night was one of them.  I’m not a lover of fish curries but absolutely love prawn curries.  This is the first time I have tried to make this recipe and the taste was unbelievable, spicy and fairly hot but also somehow fresh tasting.  Delicious!  I served it with plain boiled rice and threw on a vegetable samosa (don’t ask me why, I just fancied one).

There is a bit of controversy as to why these currys are called Balti.  Some say it is because they originated in Pakistan in the Baltistan region of Kashmir.  Others say they are named after the pan in which the curry is cooked and that they originated in Birmingham.  One thing for sure, Birmingham certainly made Balti dishes popular.  I remember being taken to Sparkhill in the 1980’s to have my very first Balti.  Originally this is where you would find Balti Houses, on and behind the main road between Sparkhill and Moseley.  It was a real experience for me.  The restaurant was more like a cafe, hard chairs and a glass-topped table under which you could read the menu.  It was brightly lit, no romantic lighting here!  If you wanted to drink alcohol you had to take your own and the owners would willingly open it for you and the Naan bread was the size of the table leaving hardly any room for the actual Balti pans.  I loved it! The people were really friendly and the food was fantastic.  Obviously, today you can choose a Balti curry from the menu of most Indian restaurants but they will never compare to my first experience of eating one.

Anyway, here is the recipe.  It is definitely one worth trying if you like curries.

Prawn Balti                           Serves 4 (easily halved)

  • 3 tbsp/45 ml sunflower oil
  • 1 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp/ 10 ml garlic paste
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 7 oz/200g tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp/15 ml tomato puree
  • 1 lb/500g raw peeled prawns
  • 1 tsp/5 ml salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 6 fl oz/175 ml warm water
  • 1/2 oz chopped fresh coriander or flat leaf parsley
  1. Preheat a Balti pan (if you have one) or a large frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the oil and, when hot, stir-fry the ginger for 30 seconds.  Add the onion and stir-fry for about 7 minutes or until the onion is soft and just starting to turn brown.
  2. Add the garlic, cardamom, cumin, fennel, chilli and turmeric.  Reduce the heat slightly and stir-fry for about 30 seconds.  Add the tomatoes and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes or until cooked down slightly.  Add 50 ml/ 2 fl oz of water and continue cooking until the water is absorbed and the il floats on the surface.
  3. Add the tomato puree, prawns, salt, fenugreek and garam masala. Stir fry for about 2 minutes.  Add the water, increase the heat slightly and stir fry for about 4 minutes more or until the prawns are pink and cooked through.  Stir in the coriander or parsley and serve immediately.

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Fish Pie, yum yum!

15 Mar

 There are all sorts of fish pie and I have tried loads of recipes but I still prefer the one I have been making for years.  It isn’t complicated and does not contain a lot of fat, it’s just great comfort food.  I can always tell when a recipe is good as there is silence around the table when people are eating, broken with the occasional mmmm!  Last night, when we had this, was just such an occasion.  The best thing about this pie is you don’t need to get hung up on the contents.  Last night I make it with cod, salmon and prawns.  I never put boiled eggs in as some of my friends hate them and, I have to say, I struggle a bit when they are in a fish pie.  Some people don’t like prawns so if I am feeding them, I simply substitute the prawns with smoked haddock.  This works really well and gives the pie a great smoky flavour.

I thought todays food trivia could be about cod.  Cod is a really popular fish with dense white flesh and a mild flavour.  The livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an excellent source of vitamins A, D and E and omega 3 fatty acids.  I remember my Mum making me take cod liver oil tablets in the winter when I was a child.  I hated them, firstly because I couldn’t swallow them and, secondly because they repeated on me and left a foul taste in my mouth.  In the UK, cod is the main fish used in the traditional Fish and Chips, along with haddock, but due to popularity, cod is currently at risk of being over fished in the UK, Canada and most other Atlantic countries.  This has caused controversy dating back to 1990, since when various committees and Government Departments have tried to restrict the fishing of cod.  Thankfully, we are still able to buy it but it is now much more expensive than when I first made this fish pie.

Anyway, here is the recipe.  It is a meal in one so there is no need to add more vegetables when you serve it, unless you want to of course.

Fish Pie                                 Serves 4 (easily halved or doubled)

  • 250g/10oz white fish fillets (cod or haddock are best), skinned, checked for bones and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 250g/10oz fresh salmon fillets, skinned, checked for bones and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • About 12 raw king prawns, all shell removed
  • 750ml/1.5 pts semi-skimmed milk
  • 50g/2oz unsalted butter
  • 50g/2oz plain flour
  • 1 onion, peeled and studded with 3-4 cloves
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 100g/4oz frozen peas

For the mashed potato topping

  • 1kg/2lbs potatoes (ones good for mashing)
  • knob of butter
  • a little milk
  1. Heat the oven to 200c/190c fan/gas 6.
  2. Cook the potatoes in salted water until tender.  Drain and mash down.  Add the butter and enough milk to make a soft but firm mash
  3. Put the studded onion and the milk in a pan, slowly bring to a simmer.  Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes.  Make sure the milk does not burn on the bottom of the pan as this will give it a bitter taste.
  4. Remove the milk from the heat, discard the onion and leave the milk to cool a little.
  5. In a separate pan, melt the butter then stir in the flour.  Cook over a low heat for a minute.  Slowly add the milk, stirring between each addition to prevent curdling.  When all the milk has been added bring slowly to a simmer, stirring, and cook until the sauce is thick and smooth.
  6. Add the fish and prawns to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in the chopped parsley and the peas and continue to cook for 1 more minute.
  7. Tip the fish and sauce into the bottom of an ovenproof dish.
  8. Top the fish sauce with the mashed potato then cook in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the top is browning and the sauce is bubbling underneath.
  9. Serve, but be careful, it will be very hot!

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