This is a traditional Kerala curry and one of my favourite Amuma's [Ranjit's grandmother], who is an excellent cook, dishes. It's gravy has a nice combination of hotness from red chilies and smoothness from fresh coconut. I could eat it everyday! Amuma was very nice to share her recipe with me after I told her about my blog. If you cannot get fresh or dried curry leaves, just skip them. And you don't necessarily need raw mangoes, which are added for sourness. You can replace them with tamarind water or lime/lemon juice. So here we go.
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1. First you will have to open the coconut. If you haven't done it before, you can find very good instructions here. It takes a little bit of work, I used to do it myself while living in Lithuania, but the taste is so worth it. And since I moved to India, I get my fresh coconut from the market like this:
2. Next, put coconut pieces into a food processor and grind it till you get a coarse paste. Here, I am using this cool gadget to scrape out the coconut without having to get it out of the shell first:
3. If you are using shallot onions [sambar onions], that are milder and sweeter, you can soak them in water for a bit so that it is easier to peel them. If you don't have shallots, you can just substitute them with a regular red onion, peel it and cut into quarters. Also, soak the dried red chillies in some water so they are easier to grind. Put the onions and dried red chillies into a food processor or a blender and grind them till you get a as smooth as possible paste. You might need to add a few tablespoons of water while grinding.
4. If you are using dried tamarind, soak a small piece (marble size) of it in a couple tablespoons of water for about 10 minutes and then squeeze out the juices, disregard the skin and seeds. If you are using raw mango, keep it aside for now. Mix together the red chili and onion paste, ground coconut, turmeric powder and tamarind/lime juice [if not using raw mango]. The paste should be slightly coarse.
5. If you are using the raw mango, peel it and slice it. Also, cut the green chillies lengthwise and remove the seeds. If you like milder food, you can soak them into some water, I don't...
6. In a big pot, mix together the coconut paste and 2 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, add the green chillies, curry leaves and raw mango slices [if using them]. Add salt to taste and mix it well.
7. Reduce the flame and add the fish slices. I used kingfish, but any white meaty and less bony fish will do. Cover the pot and let it cook for about 8-10 minutes or till the fish is cooked. In Kerala, they garnish it with just a few drops of coconut oil at the end (optional).
The colour of the gravy will depend a lot on the kind of red chillies you used. We used red Kashmiri chillies, which add this bright colour to the dish. Serve it over hot rice and with lots of gravy.