Amma’s fish curry was sliced fish simmered in a dark, fiery tamarind sauce. While family recipes vary, this fish curry recipe includes brinjal (eggplant). When paired with tamarind, it results in a characteristic sour taste and the latter accounts for it‘s black colour hence the name black fish curry. We ate fish curry with Kali, a thick porridge (mealie pap) made from maize meal, it was shaped into mounds and dotted with butter.
How to make Fish Curry like Amma
Growing up, Amma‘s fish curry was associated with the end of the fasting period (Purtassi). We also had it after a fishing trip. My younger sister and I often accompanied our father on fishing trips to the local dam. We got to witness Amma clean and cook the fish. Like all recipes, she specific ways of doing things. When it came to fish curry it had to be cooked in the fish curry pot, a flat pot which gently steamed the fish.
Spices used were a blend known as fish curry spice. I used Durban masala for this recipe, it has all essential spices need for a fiery curry. This recipe uses minimal water and should be cooked on low heat to avoid overcooking the fish. The basis for the sauce is ginger, garlic, onions and tomatoes. I recommend peeling then grating the tomatoes. This results in a thick luscious gravy without excess water.
Fish Curry Ingredients
The three main ingredients that give this curry its character and taste are the type of fish used,tamarind and brinjal.
Fish is the main component of this dish. I recommend using fresh fish.It does not have to be fresh off the boat, but market fresh fish is better than frozen fish for this recipe. The latter tends to be rather dry.This curry can be made with any type of fish (except mackerel or sardines). The fish should be sliced into minimum 3cm slices otherwise they tend to break apart. I used Atlantic Cod for this recipe.
Tamarind gives this curry its unique sour taste. It is best to use black tamarind if you prefer a dark curry otherwise it appears brown, I also recommend tamarind fruit rather than paste. The latter is more concentrated. Follow the exact measurements otherwise the curry could end up too sour.
For this recipe I recommend Machiaw or Fairytale, the long type or Barbarella and Nubia, the small round ones. The brinjal should be sliced into long strips.
Fish Curry with Tamarind Recipe
How to Cook Kali
Kali is made with a similar technique as Phutu. Maize meal is added to boiling water then cooked until a thick porridge-like texture forms. After cooking, the kali is moulded into shape. For this recipe makes 2 servings.
Kali (pap) much like ugali, requires specific technique. It involves alot of mixing, brace yourself for a good hand workout.
When you add the maize meal to the water, you have to continue mixing until all lumps are flattened to form a thick soji like texture.
- 11/2 cups of water
- 2 cups of maize meal
- pinch of salt
- Bring water to boil. Add salt and maize meal.
- Combine to form a thick mixture.
- Cook on low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Spoon into a plate, use a wet hand or spoon to form into shape. Make a thumb imprint in the middle and dot with butter. Enjoy with fish curry.