SRI LANKAN MUSTARD FISH CURRY WITH BROCCOLI PEA ‘RICE’

 
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Nick and I met 16 years ago when we were both travelling, and since then food and travel have continued to play a big part in our lives, especially when it comes to home cooking. This particular recipe is influenced by a dish we enjoyed in Sri Lanka, one of our favourite parts of the world. Not only is it a super impressive dish to serve, it’s also the easiest way to cook fish to perfection! You can’t go wrong with the fragrant spices and exotic coconut milk to make the sumptuous “gravy,” then all you need do is slowly poach the fish until just cooked through. Traditionally, fish curry is served with freshly cooked basmati, but I missed the vegetables so gave it my own twist with simple steamed peas and grated broccoli. Though I’m the chef, it’s actually Nick who does a lot of the cooking at home, and he’s really good at it. On Friday nights in Nick takes over the kitchen Friday nights to cook his specialities, and this Sri Lankan fish curry, by special request (!), has become one of my cooking go-tos on a Saturday night whether it’s just the two of us or we’re entertaining friends. We’re currently in Kerala, southern India, just a stone's throw away from Sri Lanka, visiting spice farms, so come the 14th of February we’ll definitely be tucking into a Keralan fish curry to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil

  • 1 tsp mustard seeds

  • 1 medium onion, sliced

  • 1 garlic clove, chopped finely

  • 8 fresh or dried curry leaves

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 5cm (2in) piece of cinnamon stick

  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds

  • 1 green chilli, slit lengthways

  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

  • 450g firm white fish, such as snapper, pollock, sea bream or cod, cut into chunks

  • 150ml (2/3 cup) water

  • Juice of 1/2 lime

  • 100ml coconut cream

  • Sea salt, to taste

For the broccoli pea ‘rice’

  • 1 large head of broccoli

  • 1 tsp ghee or coconut oil

  • 50g (1/3 cup) peas

  • 2 tbsp water

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD

  1. Make the broccoli and pea “rice” by removing the tough end of the broccoli stalk and roughly cutting into chunks. Use a food processor (with the S-curved blade or grater attachment) or the coarse side of a grater to grate the broccoli into rice-sized pieces.

  2. Melt the ghee in a large frying pan, add the grated broccoli and the peas with the water and stir to mix. Steam over a medium heat, lid on, for 4-5 minutes, until tender but still with a little bite. Check after 3-4 minutes to make sure that there is still enough water in the bottom of the pan to stop it catching. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Meanwhile, melt the ghee in a separate heavy-bottomed pan. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds start to pop, add the onion, garlic, curry leaves, bay leaf, cinnamon, fenugreek and chilli. Sweat the ingredients until they are transparent and develop a pale golden colour.

  4. Add the turmeric and cook for a further 30 seconds. Add the fish, water and lime juice, then cover and simmer for about 5 minutes until the fish is cooked through.

  5. When the fish is cooked, add the coconut cream to the curry and cook for another minute. Season with salt and serve with the “rice.”

Jasmine Hemsley