Even though I’ve tested the recipes in my cookbook hundreds of times, sometimes it’s necessary to refer back to the text–especially for those dishes that I don’t make that often. I’m usually the type who eschews measurements and cooks more by “feel,” but in these instances it’s good to cook by the book. And it’s always gratifying when the dish comes out as expected (or even better) because I know that if I get good results so will you.
Though Fish Ambul Thiyal is one of my favorite dishes, I don’t make it that often because I have an Aunty who makes it infinitely better than mine. I think all that has changed after today, however.
I felt a hankering for some Fish Ambul Thiyal, and I had some frozen tuna from Trader Joe’s thawing, so I decided to give it a go. One special ingredient that you will need is goraka, which might only be found at a Sri Lankan store. A fitting substitute would be tamarind.
1 lb. (450 g) fish — preferably tuna
5 cloves garlic
2-inch piece ginger
1/2 tsp. black pepper powder
1 tsp. fenugreek
5 pieces goraka (or 2 Tbsp. tamarind)
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1-inch stick cinnamon
1 sprig curry leaves
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
spices for roasting:
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. fennel powder
1 tsp. coriander powder
3.) Place the garlic, ginger, roasted spices, black pepper, fenugreek, goraka and salt into a food processor or blender and grind into a thick paste. Add a little water if necessary and coat the fish in this mixture. (Note: If you are using real tamarind fruit, soak the pods in 1/4 cup warm water. Strain and discard seeds and fiber and add to mixture. If you are using tamarind paste, use ony about a teaspoon since it is so concentrated).
4.) Heat oil in pan. Saute onions, clove, cardamom, cinnanmon, and curry leaves until onion is translucent.
5.) Place fish in the pan with water and remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until all water has evaporated (about 20 minutes).
(Note: This is considered a ‘dry’ curry containing little or no gravy)