If no one has given me a challenge for a Sunday meal, I am left to find one for myself. I keep track of everyone who has “liked” one of my dishes and—when I have time—I run through their sites looking for inspiration and ideas. One such site is Linda Creation, which introduced me to Goan cuisine.
Goa is a small state on the west coast of India, that was a colony of Portugal. Rice, seafood and coconut figure prominently in their cuisine. A local fruit kokum, used as a souring agent, is used in many Gaon recipes. Other influences to the cuisine are new vegetables and spices introduced by the Portuguese.
Kokum is a dried sour plum. To use it, you chop up the fruit and soak it in water until it is soft. Remove the seeds and grind the skin and pulp to a fine paste. This paste will give your dish a sour taste and a deep red color.
After exploring the cuisine, I settled on a Goan fish curry as my main dish. Selecting ingredients from several recipes gave me a recipe that was mine, but in the spirit of Gao. To complete the meal: a rice dish, an Urad dal, and a cauliflower dish completed the meal.
Karl’s Goan Fish Curry
5-6 pieces of dried kokum
Note: Use tamarind paste instead, if you cannot find kokum in your area)
1 ½ lb cod (any with firm white flesh, boneless and cut into pieces)
1 Tbs. ginger, finely grated
Pinch of salt
1 Tbs. coriander seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 beef steak tomato
1 Tbs. coconut oil
1 onion, finely sliced pole to pole
½ tsp. Kosher salt
2 Jalapeños , sliced
1 clove garlic
1 tbs. tomato paste
½ tsp. turmeric powder
¼ tsp. Kashmiri chili powder
1¼ cups coconut cream
2 Tbs. cilantro, coarsely chopped
1. Chop the kokum into bits and soak it in ½ cup of warm water for at least 30 minutes.
Tip: This is a bare minimum, overnight would be better, the skin is fairly thick and it takes a long time to re-hydrate.
2. Remove the seeds and grind the skin and pulp, with two tablespoons of water, into a paste.
3. Marinate the fish in the one quarter cup of the kokum paste, ginger and salt for 10-15 minutes.
4. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan and grind them in a spice mill to a fine powder.
5. Blanch, peel, seed and chop the tomato, reserve for later.
Tip: Scrape the seeds into a fine meshed sieve to save the jelly. Discard the seeds.
6. Put the oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add the onions and salt.
7. Sauté the onions until they are starting to pick up some color, about five minutes.
8. Add the Jalapeños and continue sautéing until the vegetables are soft, about another 3-5 minutes.
9. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pan and add the garlic, tomato paste, coriander and cumin powders, turmeric, and chili powder to the hole in the center of the pan.
10. Fry the paste and spices until the paste has browned well, 2-3 minutes.
11. Add drain the liquid from the marinating fish into the pan and deglaze the pan.
Tip: For the moment keep the raw fish in the bowl.
12. When most of the liquid has evaporated, stir in the coconut cream and reduce the heat to low.
13. Simmer the masala for two minutes to meld the flavors.
14. Stir in the fish and tomatoes.
15. Simmer the curry, uncovered, until the fish is cooked through, 10-12 minutes.
Tip: Stir occasionally.
16. Transfer the curry to a serving bowl and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Note: Serve with rice.