This is a hot and tangy fish curry from Goa, a region well-known for its fish and seafood dishes. Known as xiti codi, or caril de piexe, it has travelled the world and is usually what people think of when they think of fish curry. Which is a shame, as it is a unique dish, very different from the other fish curries in this book, or published elsewhere.
This is our family recipe and it is surprisingly easy to prepare. All you do is prepare the masala, then quickly poach the fish in it. Because of this it suits entertaining, as there is little attention needed once you have made the masala, which is far from fussy to prepare.
You must use a strongly flavoured fish as it needs to compete with the chillies. Ling, cod or Spanish mackerel could be used instead of kingfish. The original dish uses pomfret, which is almost unobtainable fresh, unless you are in India.
In typical Goan style the dish doesn’t taste that hot at first. It has some initial bite from the fresh red chillies, but it is only when you are partway through the meal and your hair is plastered to your forehead, do you realise you have eaten something hot. This is partly due to the effect of the Kashmiri chillies, but is also due to the manner in which they are prepared and cooked into the dish in the early stages. Note that soaking the chillies in vinegar helps bring out their bright colour when ground.
Some people believe this is better the next day, after which the flavours will have developed further. We don’t agree, because it allows the spices to overpower the fish. Further, because you will need to refrigerate, then reheat the dish, it is difficult to keep the fish in the just-cooked state. You will end up with fish that has broken up and flaked. This is best served straight from the pan.
- 800 g kingfish fillets - cut into 5cm cubes
for the masala
- ½ cup coriander leaves
- Place the kashmiri chillies in a small glass bowl with the vinegar and two tablespoons of water and allow to soak for 15 minutes.
- Place the soaked chillies, turmeric, toasted coriander seeds, peppercorns, garlic, ½ cup of water into a blender and process to a fine paste.
- Place the masala paste in a pan, with one cup of water and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Once simmering add the finely sliced onions and mix well. Simmer for five minutes, or until the onions soften, stirring frequently.
- Add the tamarind water and reduce the heat. Simmer, stirring frequently for two minutes.
- Add the salt and the sliced chillies. Cook for two minutes, stirring frequently, until the chillies release their aroma and the sauce thickens slightly. Be careful not to overcook the sauce
- Add the coconut milk, mix well, and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer.
- Add the fish in a single layer into the sauce. Spoon sauce over the top of the fish, cover the pan and simmer for five to ten minutes, or until the fish is just cooked. Do not stir the fish, but spoon sauce over the fish.
- When cooked, remove from heat, arrange fish pieces in a bowl, and pour some sauce over. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.
- Soaking the chillies in vinegar helps bring out their bright colour.
- Ling, cod or Spanish mackerel can be used instead of kingfish. The original dish uses pomfret, which is almost unobtainable fresh, unless you are in India.