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Madras Red Fish Curry (Meen Kari)

1 1/2 pounds of skinless and boneless non-oily fish fillets, such as sole or flounder, cut into 4 serving pieces
1 tablespoon of curry powder 1/2 cup of unbleached flour for dusting, recipe follows
Coarse salt to taste
3 tablespoons of light vegetable oil
1/2 cup of finely chopped onions
1 teaspoon of finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon of ground red pepper, paprika, or their combination
1 teaspoon of mustard powder
12 kari leaves or 2 bay leaves
2 cups water
1/2 pound of plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/4 cup tamarind water, or 1 teaspoon tamarind paste dissolved in 1/4 cup of hot water, or 1 teaspoon prune paste mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Kari or cilantro sprig for garnish

Place the fish on a plate and rub over with the curry powder and salt. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick frying pan until hot. Lightly dust fish pieces with flour and add to the oil. Cook until fish is lightly browned, about 1 minute, turning once. Do not fully cook fish. Remove fish to the plate. To the same pan add onions, garlic, red pepper, mustard, and curry leaves; cook until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the water, tomatoes, and tamarind and bring to a boil. Simmer until the sauce is reduced and thickened, about 8 minutes. Gently slip in the fish and the accumulated juices. Cook until the fish is heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve garnished with herbs.

2 tablespoons of coriander seeds
2 teaspoons of fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon
5 whole cloves
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon of ground red pepper

Combine coriander, fenugreek, mustard, cumin, black pepper, fennel, cinnamon, cloves, and grind to a fine powder using an electric grinder. Stir in the turmeric and red pepper and transfer into a jar. Cover tightly and keep in a cool dry place.

Yield: 1/4 cup
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes