I love Meen kuzhambhu the most. When it is served with hot steamed rice and with the side of Fish Fry, ah!!! I will be satisfied for the entire day. Amma used to make fish for almost all the Sunday, since I and appa are crazy fish lovers. Appa always need kuzhambu(gravy) and I prefer fried fish. So, not to disappoint both of us, amma makes both the method on the same day. She makes Kuzhambu in a clay pot (Manchatti) which gives an extra-ordinary flavor to the kuzhambhu. As everyone used to tell meen kuzhambu tastes better the next day. This is because of the flavor of the fish getting soaked in the tamarind gravy for the entire day. The same thing is applicable even for biryani. Amma always makes the kuzhambu using sesame oil ( nalla ennai) which is obviously good for health rather compared with other oil stuffs and it also enhances the flavor more. The main tactics to get the kuzhambu perfect is cooking the fish. Fish needs just 4-5 mins for cooking perfectly. So never ever cook it more than the time.
Buy fresh fish for making kuzhambu. When I was in Minnesota, there was no shop to provide good and fresh fish. But here in California I found a Chinese market to provide live, fresh and good fish. Am so lucky in that way!!! This time I bought Pomfret/pomapano, in tamil we call Vavval. Since TH loves fish with no bones, we bought this. As like amma’s method I made Meen kuzhambu with little of Fish and the rest I made Vavval Fish Fry. Check therecipe here.
Preparation time: 20- 30 mins ( for cleaning the fish)
¼ kg Fish (I used Pomfret/Vavval meen)
1 cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup shallots/chinna vengayam
2 ripe tomatoes
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
2 tsp chilli powder (adjust to taste)
3tsp coriander powder/dhaniya powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 lemon size tamarind
Salt (as needed)
1tsp Mustard seeds
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
Fistful curry leaves
How to make it
- Soak tamarind in hot water for 10-15 mins, and then extract the juice. Make sure to extract thick juice. If ur using tamarind paste as such, take 1tbsp and add 1cup of water. Keep aside
- In a kadai heat oil and temper the items given. Add the chopped onions, shallots and chopped garlic. Fry till the onions becomes golden brown. Add the chopped tomatoes. Smash it well and add chilli powder coriander powder and turmeric powder.
- Add the extracted tamarind water to it. Mix well and allow it to boil well forming thick gravy. Cook till the raw smell leaves.
- Dilute the gravy with some water and check for spiciness and salt.
- Once the gravy consistency is obtained add the cleaned fish to it. Allow to boil for 3-5 minutes.
Tips to enhance the flavor
- Adding too much of fenugreek seeds for tempering will give bitterness to the kolambhu.
- Vadavam is something which is done using sun-dried onions, garlic. We don’t get vadavam in US, so amma sent this to me from India. Once this packet is over sure I ll make my own and post the recipe. J
- If u doesn't have vadavam at home, never mind. Skip that step and continue with the next step.
- Always make sure to extract thick paste of tamarind juice. Cos the entire taste of meenkolambhu is completely depend on the thickness.
- If u add excess of water, try to reduce it by boiling at low flame. Or add some more coriander powder. This will give thickness to the gravy.
- Cleaning fish is another tedious job. Here we used to get cleaned and packed fish but still I used to clean it for my satisfaction. Adding turmeric powder will remove the smell and the antibacterial tendency will work on it.
- Take care not to overcook the fish. Generally fish needs 4-5 mins to cook. If overcooked it will lose its own tenderness and make the whole meenkolambhu a messy look.