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Hyderabadi Fish With Sesame Sauce

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“Another South Indian fish curry, this one from Hyderabadi. It is a very satisfying dish to prepare and eat. I suspect the sour character of this dish, which can be attributed to the tamarind, is an acquired taste. To offset this, I like to add a smattering of dark brown sugar at the end, but the choice is yours. The peanut butter is an integral component. If you cannot obtain fresh curry leaves you may use Thai basil leaves or ordinary basil leaves, but the taste will be quite different. Serve with rice and simply cooked vegetables. Adapted from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe.”

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Combine the chile powder, turmeric, coconut and coriander in a small dish.
  2. Place a cast-iron pan over medium high heat, add the sesame seeds, and stir and cook until they start to jump and emit a roasted aroma.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the combined spices from Step 1.
  4. Roast and stir the spices, off the heat, for another minute.
  5. Empty the roasted spices in to a bowl, allow to cool, then grind in batches until a fine texture (some of the sesame seeds may remain whole – do not worry about this).
  6. In a large frying pan, add oil to a depth of 1/8” and heat over medium-high heat.
  7. When hot, add the onions and stir and saute 10 to 12 minutes until reddish brown, reducing the heat as necessary.
  8. Remove onion from pan, ensuring as much oil as possible remains in the pan, and drain on kitchen paper.
  9. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the oil.
  10. Place the fried onions, along with the peanut butter, ginger, garlic, 2 tablespoons of tamarind paste, the salt.
  11. and 1 cup of hot water into a blender, and blend until smooth.
  12. Run a spatula down the sides of the blender, stir, then blend briefly again before tasting and add a little extra salt or tamarind as you think fit.
  13. Heat the reserved oil in a large, wide, non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
  14. When hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin, allow the mustard seeds to splutter (just a few seconds) then take the pan off the heat and add the curry leaves and the blended sauce.
  15. Swish the second cup of hot water around in the blender container, then add to the sauce in the pan.
  16. Lightly season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper and slip them gently into the sauce in a single layer.
  17. Simmer gently over low heat until the fish is cooked, about 5 minutes, basting from time to time.
  18. Thin the sauce with a little water if it seems too thick, and season with a little brown sugar as desired.
  19. Note: The sauce can be prepared ahead and frozen or refrigerated until needed.

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