Boatman’s Curry Recipe

“I got this recipe from a boatman who served it to his passengers in the waterways of Kerala.

He’d caught the fish from the lake he was sailing; it was the popular flat fish called ‘karimeen’.

This was cleaned and cut across into two or three pieces, head and all. You may do the same

to a flat fish such as plaice, or use steaks from any firm-fleshed fish, such as cod or salmon.”
-Madhur Jaffrey

Serves 4


For the spice paste

4–6 dried hot chillies, soaked

in hot water for 15 minutes,

then drained

1 teaspoon chilli powder

3 tablespoons ground


1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric

115g (4oz) freshly grated

coconut, or frozen grated

coconut, defrosted

For the curry

2 teaspoons tamarind


3–4 hot green chillies, halved


2.5 centimetre (1 inch) piece

peeled root ginger, lightly


4–5 very small shallots, peeled

and lightly crushed

1½ teaspoons salt

750g (1lb 10oz) fish steaks,

about 1 centimetre

(½ inch) thick (or see

recipe introduction)

Put all the ingredients for the spice paste into a blender. Add

120ml (4fl oz) of water and blend to a smooth paste.

Scrape the spice paste into a medium-sized heavy-based

pan. Add 120ml (4fl oz) more water and stir. The paste

should have a similar consistency to puréed soup.

Place the pan over a medium-low heat and bring to a gentle

simmer. Add the tamarind, green chillies, ginger, shallots

and salt. Stir and simmer for two to three minutes.

Now slip in the fish, stir once and cover. Simmer gently for

10–15 minutes, until the fish is just cooked, then serve.


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