Halibut season is in full swing right now in Vancouver with beautiful fresh halibut to be found everywhere! I picked up some halibut cheeks and decided to try my hand at a fish curry...For some reason, the word Kerala was stuck in my head - must have been a subconscious thing. So I Googled Keralan Fish Curry. A million variations popped up. I had no idea which was authentic so I did a little reading up on Kerala itself. Kerala is located on the Malabar coast of south-west India and is known for its beaches, mountain ranges and wildlife sanctuaries - it is a huge tourist destination. Also, for over 2000 years, Kerala has been visited by seafarers of all ethnicities, resulting in a cuisine that is a combination of local dishes and foreign dishes adapted to Kerala tastes.
I ended up adapting a curry recipe that I found to my own needs. I have a feeling authenticity does not figure into this, but it did taste bloody good!
Curried Halibut cheeks
1 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
1-6 chilies, finely chopped ( I had one, so that is what I used)
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate - (fish curries in Kerala commonly use black tamarind as a souring agent - I used what I had on hand)
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 or 4 tablespoon oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp Ground coriander
2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp fenugreek
Salt and pepper -- to taste
1 lb Halibut cheeks
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and sauté until they start to pop. Add the dry spices quickly and stir just until they are absorbed by the oil. Do not allow the spices to burn. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilies and sweat until soft and sweet - take your time!
Mix the tamarind concentrate with the water.
Add the tamarind water, season with salt and pepper and simmer another 30 to 40 minutes to meld the flavors and reduce the liquid a little. Stir in the coconut milk. simmer 15 minutes.
Here is where I really went off the books. I used a hand blender to blitz the sauce a little, then I passed it through a sieve. I was left with this beautiful smooth gravy.
Stir in the fish and simmer slowly another 5 to 10 minutes. Serve!
I served mine with chili and cumin spiced kale stems, saffron rice and roti. Unfortunately, I was so hungry i didn't get a good photo, here's a rough one instead!