- Mathi / Sardine – 1 kg or around 20
- Ginger – 2 tbsp, thinly sliced
- Garlic – 10 – 11, small cloves
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
- Kashmiri chilly powder – 2.5 – 3 tbsp
- Coriander powder – 2 – 3 tsp (Optional. I didn’t use it.)
- Fenugreek powder – 1/2 tsp
- Hing / asafoetida – 2 pinches (Optional)
- Cocums / kudam puli – 4 (Soak them in some warm water for 10 minutes and tear into small pieces)
- Curry leaves – 2 – 3 sprigs
- Mustards – 1/2 tsp
- Salt – To taste
- Oil – 2 tbsp
1. Clean and cut the fish pieces. Make a paste of the chilly powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, fenugreek powder and hing in little water(around 1.5 – 2 tbsp) and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a meen chatti / claypot and splutter mustards. Saute ginger and garlic. When they turn golden, bring down the heat and add the curry leaves and the chilli-coriander-turmeric-fenugreek paste. Saute for a minute at medium heat(take care not to burn it) or until the oil starts appearing on the surface. Now add about 1.5 – 2 cups water(water should be in the same level as that of the fish pieces), salt and the kudam puli pieces along with the water in which they were soaked. Bring it to a boil, check for salt and add the fish pieces.
3. After adding the fish pieces swirl the clay pot to mix everything well. Bring to a boil and cover with a lid. Cook at medium flame. Remember to rotate the meen chatti or pan every 6-8 mts. It generally takes less than 20 – 25 mts to cook the fish.
4. Cook until the fish gets done and adjust the gravy according to your consistency. We prefer a medium-thick gravy. Taste-check the gravy, if it tastes very sour, remove one or two kudampuli pieces. Add some curry leaves and switch off. Add a tsp of coconut oil for an extra taste and aroma(optional). If the gravy is very thin, cook for a few more minutes at medium flame without covering it.
1) You can add sliced shallots along with ginger and garlic but remember to brown them if you want to keep it for long. Fish curry prepared in meen chatti tastes the best! This curry can be left outside for 1 -2 days (especially in winter) and tastes better the next day.
2) You could also arrange the fish pieces on a bed of curry leaves in a meen chatti and make the gravy in a separate pan. Once the gravy is prepared pour it over the fish pieces and cook.
3) Coriander powder is added in order to make the gravy thick. You can avoid using it if you want.