This curry is truly delicious! I say so with such confidence because I grew up eating it - this is my mom's recipe. The ingredients used to make it show a mix of both eastern and northern Indian culinary influences. Serve it with piping hot plain boiled rice.
1 kg fish cut into 1" thick slices (this curry tastes best with Rohu but you can use any fish with firm white flesh)
4 tbsps vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
2 tbsps cumin seeds
8 dry red chillies
1 tsp paanch phoran seeds (see recipe below)
10-12 curry leaves
1 large onion ground to a paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
2 large tomatoes cut into cubes
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
3-4 tbsps coconut powder
Walnut-sized ball of tamarind soaked in 1/2 cup of hot water
2 cups hot water
Salt to taste
Chopped coriander to garnish
Heat a heavy-bottomed pan on a medium flame and roast the dry red chillies, mustard and cumin seeds till they begin to release their aroma. Cool and grind to a fine powder.
Grind the tomatoes, turmeric, garam masala powder, coconut and above powder into a smooth paste. Keep aside. Squeeze the soaked tamarind well to remove all the pulp.
Heat the oil in a wide heavy-bottomed pan and add the paanch phoran and curry leaves. When they stop spluttering, add the onion paste and fry till light brown.
Add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry for 3-4 minutes.
Add the tomato and spice paste and fry till the oil begins to separate from the masala.
Add 2 cups of hot water and the tamarind pulp to this masala and stir to mix well.
Bring the gravy to a boil and then simmer.
Gently add the fish to this gravy and cook till done.
Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with plain boiled rice.