Mom’s Mathi meen curry
Mathi or sardines is my favourite fish and this mathi curry which mom always makes is simply the best. Its a recipe from Kerala, done mom’s way. Keralite recipes look simple and are even simpler to make, but taste out of the world.
Sardines contain loads of omega 3 and so are considered very healthy. It is a small-sized fish and is not overly priced like the other fishes. The hardest part is cleaning the fish. As it is fully covered with scales it takes quite some time to clean the fish.
While cleaning, most people prefer to keep the head also intact. But I normally remove it coz none other than me wants to have it in our house. When mathi is cooking the entire house smells fishy, and seems like it stays for one or two days.
Mom took the utmost care while cleaning avoiding as much as possible touching other vessels. First, she would take a handful of rock salt and rub over the fish. Then she would clean up the scales and innards. Then wash it a number of times till the water came out clean and the fish looked shiny.
And then marinate the fish with her simple marination of salt, chilly powder and turmeric powder. One of us was deployed as her assistant to hand her measured quantities of spices as she called out. And I hated that job coz I always ended up getting scolded as I never understood her measurements 😀 .
But beyond all that I just loved the curry, especially if it was made the day before and could never stop overloading myself. I, dad and my sis will make umpteen visits to the kitchen as the fish was cooking to taste test 😀 and I still cherish those moments.
The curry is a bit on the tangy side, so add tamarind accordingly. Salt and chilly or chilly powder should balance the tanginess. Green chillies give a nice flavour but I have added only 2 as we are also adding red chilly powder. Decrease or increase as per preference.
To make it taste more like mom’s curry I have used the flat stone grinder or ammi kal as we call it to grind the coconut. You can grind it using your mixie/mixer jar too.
While tempering, first heat up the oil, add the mustard seeds and urad dal. Once the mustard splutters and the urad becomes brown simmer the flame and add the chopped garlic and red chillies if using. When the garlic turns slightly brown, turn off the stove and add the curry leaves.
This fish contains lots of small bones, so you need to be extra cautious while eating it too. Of course, the best way to have the fish is to eat it with the bones. But feeding kids need a lot of patience and care.
Despite all this, you will definitely fall in love with this curry as much as we are. So do give this a try.
I have used only 4 pieces of fish for this curry, as it was only for me and hubby. The remaining I deep-fried. If you are increasing the quantity of fish increase the tamarind water, and other spices accordingly.
Over to the recipe…
Mathi meen curry
- 150 g sardines (4 nos)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼-½ tsp chilly powder
- a pinch of turmeric powder
Rest of the ingredients
- 1 gooseberry sized tamarind(20g)
- 1" piece of ginger(thinly sliced)
- 2 green chillies
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp red chilly powder
- a pinch of jaggery/sugar
- a pinch of hing/asafoetida
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1½ cups water
- ½ cup grated coconut(loosely packed)( 50g)
- water as needed for grinding
- 1 tbsp oil
- ⅛ tsp mustard seeds
- ¼ tsp split urad dal
- 3 cloves garlic(finely chopped)
- few curry leaves
- whole red chillies(optional)
- Clean up the sardines, slice them as per preference and marinate them with the ingredients given under "for marination" for 30 minutes to 1 hour
- Soak the tamarind in 1½ cups of water.
- In a mud pot (preferably), take the squeezed tamarind water and all the other ingredients cited under "rest of the ingredients". Bring this to a boil on stove top.
- Once it comes to a nice boil add the marinated fish and let it cook for 5-7 minutes.
- In the meantime, grind the coconut to a smooth paste and add it to the curry when it starts boiling again.
- Cook for a few more minutes till the raw smell of the coconut disappears and the curry thickens.
- Temper with the ingredients given under " for tempering" and pour it over the curry. Serve it with plain white rice.
- Adjust spices as per preference.
- Do not overcook the fish as it does not taste good.
- The curry is generally medium thick. But you can adjust consistency as per your need.
- Do not skip the tempering as it gives a nice flavour to the curry.
- Fish curry cooked a day before tastes out of the world.
You may also like my other fish recipes