I have given details instruction on how to make the marinade below. If you would like to see step by step photos of the process, click here.
Alleppey Fish Fry
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
5 medium tomatoes
50g chana lentils
2 tsp rapeseed (canola) or coconut oil
5 cloves garlic – smashed and roughly chopped
3- 6 green bird’s eye chillies
3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1 1/2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder (more or less to taste)
1 tsp chaat masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder)
Salt to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
250ml (1 cup) coconut oil
4 x 400-500g sea bream or silver pomfret if you can get it
60 fresh or frozen curry leaves
Roast the tomatoes in a large pan or, better yet, directly over a open fire until blackened. You will need to turn regularly while doing this. Set aside to cool slightly and then dice them.
Now, in a dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the chana lentils for about five minutes, stirring regularly until toasted and brown in colour. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Meanwhile, add one teaspoon oil to the large pan, preferably large enough to hold all the fish and stir in the cumin and garlic cloves and sauté well for about a minute.
Add the green chillies, coriander leaves, roasted chana lentils and diced, roasted tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the chilli powder, chaat masala, cumin and amchoor (mango powder). Stir well and take off the heat to cool slightly.
Once cooled, blend this into a smooth paste. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt to taste.
Clean out the pan and heat the coconut oil in it over high heat. When bubbling hot, dip the fish in the paste so that they are coated all over and add them to the sizzling oil.
Fry for a couple of minutes and then flip the fish over to fry the other side. As the fish is frying, baste it with the remaining paste and splash the tops with the hot coconut oil.
You might want to flip the fish again and do the same on the other side. Keep splashing the fish with the oil and dabbing it with more paste.
When the fish is looking lightly charred and the aroma is making everyone hungry, let it rain with the curry leaves all over the fish.
You’ll know when the fish is ready because it will look too good to leave in the pan one second longer! You could test it with a fork though. When the fish is flaky and comes off the bone easily, it's ready.
Carefully transfer the fish with some of the paste and curry leaves to a platter to serve and dig in!
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I hope you enjoy this authentic Keralan fish fry. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.