Tamarind Fish

Do you ever get Indian food hangovers?  I keep trying to cook with this seed called fenugreek (both it and its leaf counterpart are also called methi).  It’s a tiny packet of pungence that adds a slight bitter kick to any dish.  The smell can be described as a sort of spicy maple syrup.  It usually gets fished out of the fridge and added to the pan when I’m feeling a little brazen.
And it all seems like a good life decision until the next morning, when I wake up smelling like fenugreek incarnate.  I’m my own regrettable one-night stand.  Until after a run and shower to purge it from my system, I’m a little ashamed to go out in public.  That’s the only downside to this cuisine: to eat it is to exude it.
That said, this fish dish is pretty flexible.  If you don’t have fenugreek, or even tamarind paste, you should try it anyway and tell me if it works for you.
  • 4 white fish filets
  • Marinade: 2 Tbsp each of dark soy sauce, tomato paste, and plain yogurt
  • Curry:
  • 1 diced onion
  • a few curry leaves (optional)
  • 2-3 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp tamarind paste (optional…even if it’s in the title)
  • 4 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • salt
  • Marinate the fish with the marinade for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.
    Heat the oil in a deep pan over medium high heat, and pan-fry the fish until they are browned on either side and getting crispy (try to only cook each side once).  Transfer the fish to a paper towel-lined plate.  Next add the mustard and fenugreek and allow them to cook in the oil alone for 15 seconds (you may have to cover the pan if they start to pop).  Add the cumin, coriander, and chili powder, the garlic and ginger, and mix for about 10 additional seconds.  Add the yogurt, tomato paste, and the tamarind paste, and then gently add the fish back to the pan.  Allow to simmer for 10 additional minutes, adding water as necessary if the mixture starts to look dry.  Adjust with salt to taste.
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    6 Responses to Tamarind Fish

    1. Is fenugreek the “Indian curry” taste/smell?? I have been trying to figure out the culprit spice… but I think I’ve tried it in minor doses and all was kosher. 😉
      Gotta love anything with tamarind, though. Yum!

      • Anita says:

        Some people are immune I think…Ari says she doesn’t get the effect at all. Fenugreek definitely isn’t ubiquitous enough to account for all of the Indian spice aromas out there, but it’s definitely the mac-daddy of them!

    2. Chuck says:

      Great looking recipe. Your pictures are excellent. Is the onion added with the cumin and other spices?? I’ll send this on to Leah. I didn’t know about methi and fenugreek.

    3. Leah says:

      This looks delicious, Anita! I once had a not-so-pleasant encounter with Mexican tamarind candy, but this fish looks fantastic. I am off to the international grocery store for some tamarind paste and will report back!

    4. Anita says:

      Oops! Good catch! I added the onion in there between the mustard/fenugreek and the other spices. Please give me suggestions if you’ve made something like it or if you try this recipe!

    5. Anita says:

      Aw, I’m excited for you to try it! Let me know if you have suggestions. The tamarind, too, is a pretty strong flavor for fish. Please suggest changes if you think of any.

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