Indian fish delicacies are renowned world over for lip smacking curries, tikkas, tandoori fish and many more. Today I’m going to share with you another recipe from my home town, Spicy Masala Fish Curry or Chepala Iguru, which is a complete contrast to the traditional tangy fish pulusu. This is not tangy and is a luscious fish curry redolent with freshly ground spices and herbs. It tastes best with Fresh or live fish but when it is not available you can try Spicy Masala Fish Curry or Chepala Iguru with fillets too.
Everyone knows that fish is good for you. The fats in fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, are thought to help prevent heart diseases and can even aid in preventing diseases like Alzheimer’s and Strokes. But it seems that many people are afraid of cooking fish at home. Cooking fish can be daunting for amateurs and even in the professional kitchen it is regarded with some apprehension. People avoid cooking fish for lots of reasons, top of the list includes the irrational fear that it will stink up the house. But the main reason people don’t cook fish is because they don’t know how. There’s something to that. A fillet of fish, unlike a piece of meat, is delicate. But that doesn’t mean it’s not doable. As always, a little care and simplicity is key.
I’m constantly being asked one question a to how would one know if the spices are cooked well or the raw smell goes off !! So, today I have included some tips that might help you to make a better curry the next time! You just have to give your spices some time for it to cook really well.
- Use good amount of onions. For more robust flavors, always sauté you onions till golden.
- It is best to fry the onions first before adding the ginger and garlic as onion takes a longer time and you do not want to over fry or burn your ginger/garlic in the process.
- If you are adding either coconut milk, yogurt or cream to the curry, do add it towards the final few minutes and that too over low heat else there would be separation of the curry and the milk/cream that is being used.
- Curry paste is prone to burning, so you would need to add some water if it gets too dry while you are frying your spices. Remember that you are frying the spices and not boiling it, so do add a little water at a time.
- Last but definitely the most important tip, spices needs to be cooked well.
How do you tell that you have cooked your spices well enough?
Somehow when the spices are cooked well, firstly you can literally smell the cooked spices. Instead of the strong smell of the spices, it would mellow down a bit and you will get a warm and cozy smell of curry. Secondly, if you have cooked your spices well enough, the oil would float on the surface of the spices. So basically, the oil would separate from the spices.
Off to the recipe for Spicy Masala Fish Curry or Chepala Iguru!!
Step-by-Step process in making Spicy Masala Fish Curry or Chepala Iguru:
What do we need for Spicy Masala Fish Curry or Chepala Iguru preparation?
- Please follow the recipe card at the end of the post for measurements.
- Clean and wash fish. Cut fish into steaks of required thickness (Preferably 1cm thick).
- Marinate the fish steaks with chilli powder, turmeric and salt and set it aside for about 20 min.
Note: Marinating fish adds flavour and moisture to the flesh, but any marinating should be very brief. If fish flesh sits in acidic ingredients for more than 30 minutes, the acid will begin to denature the delicate protein, and you’ll have a mushy fish when it’s cooked. Even richer flesh of salmon and tuna should only be marinated for about an hour. It may be irrelevant in today’s recipe as we are not using any acidic medium, but I try to share some thoughts and tips as and when I get them.
- Meanwhile finely chop onion, green chilles and chives.
- These are the ingredients required to grind to a paste.
- Grind ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, poppy seeds and desiccated coconut in a mixer to a fine paste.
- First powder them finely without adding water.
- Then use slightly hot water, soak for a min and grind to a fine paste. Soaking in hot water aids easy grinding of the poppy seeds.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and season with cinnamon and cloves. Stir for a min till you smell the aroma of the spices.
- To this add onions, green chillies and sauté till they are slightly brown in colour. Add chives and curry leaves. Stir for a minute.
- Add marinated fish steaks and coriander. Sauté for about 2 min.
- Be gentle while stirring as fish is very delicate.
- Add the ground masala paste, remaining chilli powder and turmeric powder.
- Fry till the raw smell goes off. This will take about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Now add required water till the fish immerses.
- You can adjust the consistency of the gravy to suit your requirement. The gravy for this recipe should be on the thicker side.
- Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes with occasional gentle stirring, as fish is delicate.
- Then remove lid, simmer and cook for 2 minutes till the oil separates.
- When the oil starts to separate, turn off the heat. Spicy Masala Fish Curry or Chepala Iguru is almost done!!
- Finally sprinkle garam masala (optional) and garnish with coriander.
- Spicy Masala Fish Curry or Chepala Iguru tastes best when served with plain rice accompanied with Rasam or Pappucharu.
- It can also be served with vegetable pulao, coconut milk rice, roti, paratha, idli or dosa.
- To marinate:
- 6 Fish steaks cleaned and cut to required size
- 1 teaspoon of red chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- To grind:
- ½ inch Ginger
- 6 garlic pods
- 1 cm cinnamon stick
- 2 Cloves
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
- 1 Tablespoons desiccated coconut
- ¼ cup hot water for grinding
- To season:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable Oil
- 1 cm cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- Other Ingredients:
- 1 large Onion finely chopped
- 2 to 3 green Chilies finely chopped, divided
- 2 Tablespoons chives finely chopped
- A sprig of Curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder Adjust to suit your spice levels
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- Required salt
- ½ teaspoon garam masala powder Optional
- ½ cup finely chopped coriander
- Marinate the fish steaks with ingredients under “To marinate” and set it aside for about 20 min.
- In the mean time grind ingredients under “To grind” in a mixer to a fine paste using hot water.
- To season, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and season with cinnamon and cloves. Stir for a min till you smell the aroma of the spices.
- Now add chopped onions, green chillies and sauté till they are slightly brown in colour.
- Add chives and curry leaves. Stir for a minute.
- Add marinated fish steaks and sauté for 2 min. Now add some coriander.
- Add ground masala paste, remaining chilli powder and turmeric powder. Fry till the raw smell goes off. This may take about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Now add required water till the fish immerses and adjust salt. You can adjust the consistency of the gravy to suit your requirement (The gravy for this recipe shouldn’t be too loose).
- Close the lid of the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes with gentle frequent stirring and then simmer for 2 minutes till oil separates. Turn off the heat.
- Finally sprinkle garam masala powder(optional) and garnish with coriander.
2. Adjust spice levels to suit your taste.
3. You can also substitute chives with spring onions.
4. Using hot water to grind the paste will aid the poppy seeds to grind easily.
5. You can use ginger garlic paste in case you do not have fresh ginger and garlic and grind only the other ingredients for the paste, but definitely there is a difference in the taste.
6. Make sure not to cook more that 10 to 15 minutes after adding the fish (depending on the quantity).
7. For vegetarians- Use the same process to make delicious veggie gravies, just substitute fish with any of your favourite veggies.
You might not want to miss out other popular seafood recipes from my blog.
Also check out other Non-Vegetarian recipes-
And many more to come!!….Stay Tuned!!!
Happy Cooking 🙂