I first tasted this delicious South Indian Salmon Curry on the Keralan coast of India. A young boy, all of 15, was our cook at the beach homestead in the beautiful beach town of Varkala where we were staying.
He created a spectacular banana leaf thali for us one lunchtime. It featured all manner of amazing vegetable dishes, chutneys and pickles and included this unforgettable fish curry. He happily showed me the ingredients using the art of pointing and nodding as I hurriedly scribbled them into a shorthand recipe on the back of an old boarding pass.
Passing on the curry recipe
My South Indian Salmon Curry is pretty faithful to the original recipe; with a couple of exceptions. The original version included Kokum; a sour berry which is native to Southern India. I've substituted this for tamarind but a squeeze of lime would also work. Secondly, the original recipe featured a local white fish, but after many iterations over the years I settled on salmon or trout. This said, any firm white fish, prawns or other seafood like scallops, clams, squid and mussels work excellently!
The flavours and textures are a perfect harmony of, nutty mild spice with a rich but not heavy sauce. A lighter sauce than that of Northern Indian curries. Now, if only I could be transported to that same balmy palm-lined beach each time I cook it!
How to make my South Indian Salmon Curry
Spice Mix 1
- In a wok, heat the oil until hot over a moderate/high heat. Add Spice Mix 1 and stir for 30 seconds until aromatic.
- Add Spice Mix 2, the tomato and about 1/2 cup coconut milk. Let this come to a sizzle, stirring constantly to avoid sticking and burning. Stir this way for 10 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce is thick - the oil will most likely start to separate.
- Add the remaining coconut milk. Refill the can about 2/3 with water and add this too. Now add the sugar and tamarind and bring to a simmer. Add the salmon and cook for 8-10 minutes until fully cooked. Remove from the heat, adjust seasonings of salt & tamarind to get the right salty/sour balance, then sprinkle over the fresh coriander and serve.
- The rice I had in India was a giant bulbous rice, kind of like Israeli cous cous, that I've still not been able to track down. I almost always serve mine with an amazing fragrant lentil rice called kitchari. The two work perfectly together.
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