Something Fishy

Durban Fish Curry – by Yudhika Sujanani

We lived in Isipingo and for a while we lived in Isipingo Beach. My grandfather was a keen fisherman and loved to take my cousins and I on fishing trips! I even had my own fishing rod! My gran would pack a picnic basket and we would be off for the day. The best part of the fishing trip would be to get home and my mom would season the catch of the day with red chilli, salt and a light sprinkling of turmeric. This was the best fried fish ever! Sometimes she would also prepare a devilishly hot fish curry cooked with tamarind and tomatoes.

Serves 4

750g firm fish steaks
60ml sunflower oil
5ml mustard seeds
5ml cumin seeds
1 large onion, finely chopped
7ml coarse salt
6 cloves garlic, crushed
5ml crushed ginger
30ml red chilli powder
800g tomatoes, blanched and chopped – I use tinned tomatoes sometimes
10ml ground coriander
5ml ground cumin
2ml turmeric
30ml tamarind
125ml boiled water
Pinch of sugar
Curry leaves and coriander, to garnish

Here’s how:

Heat the sunflower oil in a 30cm AMC pot.
Add the mustard seeds and once the begin to pop.
Add the cumin seeds and fry until the sizzle and turn a shade darker.
Stir the onion and salt into the oil.
Saute the onions until they turn golden brown – I also add a few curry leaves to get the aromas going!
Add the crushed garlic and ginger and fry for a few seconds until fragrant.
Stir the red chilli powder into the oil and fry for 3 – 5 seconds, then add the tomatoes.
Add the ground cumin, coriander and turmeric and simmer the sauce until the tomatoes form a smooth paste – use the back of a wooden spoon to break down the lumps.
While the tomatoes are simmering, dissolve the tamarind in boiling water – if you are using tamarind with seeds, you will have to strain the liquid to remove the fibres and seeds.
When the tomatoes have cooked down and are completely soft, add the tamarind and then place the fish steaks into the sauce.
Poach the steaks in the sauce and simmer on a very low heat until the sauce has thickened – the cooking time depends on the thickness of the fish steaks.
Sprinkle in a little sugar to balance the sharpness and acidity of the tomatoes.
Garnish with fresh curry leaves and coriander.
Serve with rice or roti.

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