I’ve made many curries since I started this blog, but this very simple herbal curry with sea bass and lemon rice is probably the most balanced in flavours (while still very aromatic) and it only takes 45 minutes to prepare.
Eat Indian and curry on
Curries are one of the most popular types of food out there, that you can, just like burgers and pizza, find in the nearest take-away, as well as in the fanciest Michelin star Restaurant. They are versatile: vegetarian, with fish, seafood, lamb, chicken… And once you’ve properly understood the anatomy of a curry, with a bit of imagination you can start creating. At least that’s what I enjoy doing. Indian spices are so diverse and two curries can taste completely different even if the only difference is the ‘masala’ (spice mix).
A below-average experience that made me wish to fix it
Lately I’ve realised what I like the most about cooking. I like the creative process: finding new ingredients, mixing them together and awaiting the end result with such a surprise. I like learning new things: plating and food styling are two of them. As I’ve said before, I wish to be more than just a home cook. I wish to be a home chef. I wish to learn how to present food in a nice way, how to cook with good quality ingredients.
A couple of weeks ago I tried a new Indian restaurant that I really hoped would amaze me. Rated in the top 10 restaurants in Edinburgh, Navadhanya disappointed me to the core. And while I don’t know how their à la carte dishes taste like, their 7 course tasting menu was less than average. Navadhanya promotes itself as being a contemporary Indian restaurant. After watching the incredible story of Gaggan on Chef’s Table, my expectations were high. And while, of course, I didn’t have the expectations of a 3 Michelin star restaurant, I did expect to have an Indian experience different to all the ones I had before.
If I decide to go with the tasting menu, I expect it to contain a bit of the restaurant’s best dishes. I felt like this one did not, but instead, tried to fill up the number of dishes in the menu with dishes that don’t even make sense, like potato stuffed dosa with lentil sauce. Ok, this may be a traditional Indian dish, but if I go to a contemporary Indian restaurant (fine-dining wannabe, also), I do expect to receive a bit more than three different carbs on a plate.
I also expect to have the chicken replaced with something more refined, maybe quail or pheasant if you’re aspiring higher, but fish would have been just fine as well. Instead of serving plain rice, a couple of coriander seeds, maybe some curry leaves, would have worked so well. For a more memorable experience, that is.
How I would have done it
Anyway, this experience (and, I stress this again, having watched Gaggan’s story on Chef’s Table) made me wish to try things out. I’m still far from it, but I tried, with this specific curry, to fix the chicken curry that I got in the tasting menu at Navadhanya. If I had been their chef. J
As for this recipe, I made it while my friend Victor was visiting, wishing to accommodate his love for Indian food. I put together this whole dish in about 45 minutes and it was really delicious. My friend was happy with his Indian dish, and my boyfriend said it’s one of the very best curries I’ve ever made. He’s been saying that a lot lately, hasn’t he?
- 2 cloves
- 2 juniper berries
- 2 star anise
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 2 tbsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp ghee (or butter)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, chopped
- 1 large handful of coriander, roughly chopped
- 2 coconut milk cans
- 4-5 large tomatoes, chopped
- 4 sea bass fillets
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 1/2 cups of basmati rice
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp mustard oil
- 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
- 1 small handful of curry leaves
- 1 tbsp of grated ginger
- First of all, prepare the spice blend. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the whole spices – the cloves, star anise, juniper berries, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns.
- Heat the ghee (or butter) in a large pan and lightly fry the ginger and the freshly ground spices for about a minute, while stirring constantly. (Leave the remaining spices for later – turmeric, cinnamon, chilli and salt.)
- Add the onions and turn the heat down to medium-low. Sautée them until they become soft.
- Turn the heat up and add the tomatoes and the remaining spices (tumeric, cinnamon, chilli and salt). Stir well, cover the pan with a lid and let cook for about 5 minutes.
- Finally, add the coconut milk and coriander, bring to boil and let cook, uncovered on medium heat for about 5-10 minutes.
- When the curry sauce is done, blend it in a food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside.
- For the fish you will need a grill pan (preferably). Heat the oil in the pan. Add the fish fillet – place it skin side down; you will only be cooking it on one side. Sprinkle the fish with a bit of salt and ground cardamom, and cook for 15 minutes on medium-low heat. You can use a lid to get it done faster. And while you will cook it skin side down, when plating it, serve it skin side up – it will be crispy and very enjoyable!
- In the meantime you can prepare the rice. Simmer it with 2 cups of water and salt for 20 minutes.
- Prepare a large pot. Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they start popping, add the ginger and curry leaves and stir well until they’re lightly fried. Add the cooked rice and lemon juice and mix well.
- Finally, serve all warm with some fresh coriander and enjoy!