Sindhi Fish Seyal - Fish Curry

Saturday, February 13, 2010

'In a metal, non-stick, valley, lies the boiling, dumbing ground of a glorious battle waged and won. Among the warriors, the fresh coriander, ginger, and garlic that were slaughtered into paste in a tediously lengthly skirmish; hot fish once so cold it left the fingers with no feeling; blood red tomatoes butchered in hasty combat to prevent the starvation of the siblings; and the stain of ground cumin so prevalent it stains even the air.' was what poetic progeny came up with as she helped cook this with me.

This is possibly my favorite Indian fish dish. LOL .. fish dish! Why? Well typically Indian mains, especially curries, are characterized by gravies so thick and rich and scrumptious, it overwhelms the delicate flavour of the fish. Not this one. It is thick, it is rich, and most definitely scrumptious, but the fresh and herb-y cilantro, along with the ever-present tomatoes make for a lighter gravy, as opposed to the onion-tomato duo that we find in most other curries.

Aunty Viveeta told me that there are two versions of seyal in Sindhi cooking: the red seyal, with the colour emanating from the browned shallots, and the green seyal, from the fresh coriander leaves. Green seyal is best with firm fleshed fish, such as snapper, and is best enjoyed with dodo (a thick roti) to soak up all that sauce.

This recipe can also be made with eggs and potatoes for a vegetarian version, and is the same seyal used as a base for mani seyal. Or you can try it with baguettes, for a twist!

8 cloves garlic
2 shallots
2 cm ginger
4-6 green chillies
4 cups fresh coriander leaves
6 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup oil
1 kg snapper fillets or chicken pieces
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp lemon juice

1. Using a mortar & pestle, 'uleg' the garlic, shallots, ginger, chilies and coriander leaves
Uhh .... I''ll just stick to the processor, Aunty, sorry!
This should yield 4 cups of spice paste.
2. Heat oil in a pan, then stir fry the processed spice paste for 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes, and the dried spices, and cook it a further 10 minutes until cilantro is slightly browned.
4. Carefully lower the fish fillets into the pan, smothering it with the gravy, cover the pan, and cook till done.
5. Pour lemon juice and give a final (careful) stir before serving.

The fried spice paste (before meat is introduced) can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 weeks, handy for a quick mani seyal for breakfast!

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