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.”
For the spice paste
4–6 dried hot chillies, soaked
in hot water for 15 minutes,
1 teaspoon chilli powder
3 tablespoons ground
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
115g (4oz) freshly grated
coconut, or frozen grated
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
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.