Monday, July 6, 2009

Mom's special - Fish Fry

DD got a little apprehensive when I suggested train journey for travel to some of the places that we still want to visit. The most recent train journey she remembered was of the Amtrak trip we had taken to Chicago and expected the Indian train travel to be the same. Partially my fault for suggesting a non-AC day coach for a truly Indian train experience. The heat, lack of sleep and the added delay all contributed to a less than memorable experience. We packed lunch from the Saravan Bhavan in the train station and eating that on the way was one of the tiny pleasures of a train travel were the train seemed to idle far more than move. The juicy mangoes sold on board, people idling outside for the train to (re)start are all uniquely Indian experiences. When the train stopped for 2 hours in the middle of nowhere and water was getting scarce people with bottles in their hands ran into the fields to fill them from the motor pumping water to irrigate the fields.


Few days after landing here the news from here that kept repeatedly looping through all the TV channels was of a Congress MP who slapped a bank manager. The next was of another politician who threatened a high court judge to give judgement in favor of his relative. Just to confirm that politicians have not changed their colors from when I visited the last time which was not that long ago. But one hopes!

slathered in paste

The one true pleasure is the everyday shopping of vegetables in shops found in every street corner after being starved for fresh vegetables. The fresh vegetables are truly a treat for the eye and stomach. Another food find atleast for was the Indianized pizza. With a super soft bread base and a non oily cheese and spicy toppings be it just vegetables or chicken they are a great snack. Everyday food is what we are enjoying most. The simplest of chutneys, sambhar, rasams, poriyals (stir fries) and an occasional spicy chicken or fish thrown in. I am not sure if it is the hand or the ingredients the food seems to taste so much better than when I cook them - I am positive it is not the hand but the ingredients that I get ;)

The Hindu supplement - Literary Review carried an article about a Tamil poet and novelist Salma. With little over a middle school education she writes of subjugation and sexuality of women in the Muslim community. She is a bit sad that girls from her community rarely read her books. The English translation of her work is "The Hours Past Midnight". I am hoping to buy a copy of the book soon, hence I don't have a first hand knowledge of the book itself. Her observation about Indian writers I thought was spot on- "Most English writers are removed from the margins of our society. They do not have an ear to the ground as many of them are from the upper crust". The article was inspiring in a way and thought I'd share.

on the gridle

Today is a special day and the special on the menu is my mom's style fish fry. My mom uses (gasp) Olive Oil to fry the fish in a flat pan on a magnetic hot plate. Grandma was so very proud when the kids exclaimed it was the best fish fry ever. I took pictures while my mom's helper was frying the fish, I am sure found it strange to see food being photographed and I did not exactly look at her face. The fishmonger gave the name of the fish as "paala". A subtle tasting light fish, slightly firm and does not fall apart while being fried or in a curry.

fried fish

Fish Fry
Ingredients (15 pieces of fish)
1. 8-10 cloves of garlic (3 American kind)
2. an inch size piece of ginger grated
3. juice from one lemon (lime size)
4. 1 tbsp curd
5. 1 tbsp sambhar powder
6. 1/4 inch piece of cinnamon
7. salt

Blend the above except the curd to a smooth paste. Do not add extra water. Mix the curd to the paste.

For Frying
1. 1-2 tbsp of Olive Oil

1. Clean the fish and apply the paste evenly on the fish pieces and let it dry out in the sun.
2. Heat the flat griddle (dosai pan) and apply a coat of oil. Now place 3 fish pieces on the pan and let them cook on one side, flip and cook evenly on the other side.

Serve with rice


  1. Lovely. Sans the ginger and olive oil this is way amma makes fish fry. Hoep u're having a ala time here :)

  2. Fish fry looks very delicious & easy to make.

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  3. You took DD on a non-AC train ride in the middle of Indian summer, you have guts girl !!!

    Auntie's fish fry looks so yumm. Get us some goodies when you are coming back, will you ;-)

  4. Nice read, I surprised you have time to blog.
    Fish fry looks delicious. I believe the fresh fish tastes better. I fry the fish with the same ingredients but find a diff in taste when I fry the fresh fish caught in the lakes when compared to the store bought ones.

  5. honestly...i just hate travelling in any class..i get bored in a matter of hours...and i am quite unsocial by i am fixed with a perpectual frown :D...i can imagine the face of ur mom's should have captured it :D

  6. OMG!!! Fish!!! My weakness!!! 4 more weeks to go and I'm counting the days. :D

    Enjoy the fish! Nothing like அம்மா கை சாப்பாடு. :)

  7. You got me drooling terribly here!

  8. Sounds like you are having a great time at home alongwith some delicious food.

  9. Indian politicians will NEVER change. hoping is a waste of time.. wonder why the bank guy did not slap him back.

    train rides make me nostalgic, for my entire life from elementary school to college i had been traveling by train, but now in a non AC coach.. forget it! Kudos to you for giving it a try with DD!!

    That fish fry is something i could use now.. Waaaah! could you bring back some for me:-)

  10. thats a great looking one indo..glad you are enjoying the vacation!

  11. DD agreed to the insanity of traveling in the non-AC train?? Impressive! Meen varuval looks awesome. Have an awesome time! :)

  12. Fish fry looks like a special treat indeed, ISG! I love the color of the paste. Riding the summer-train sounds like a real adventure -- wishing for a little taste of that hot weather for my tomatoes and a little taste of that fish for me ;)

  13. super tasty fish fry! adding curd and sambar powder is new to me.. enjoyed reading your post :)

  14. Miri

    Non AC trains - believe me even all of us used to only travel that way when we were young, have all switched over to AC. Its just not worth the effort to be hot and uncomfortable by the time you reach your destination....and more importantly, non AC travel has become more and more unsafe - my parents who insisted on travelling non AC till recently have now switched over because they have twice lost belongings!

    The fish fry looks absolutely delicious!

    Priya said
    Fish fry looks yummy!!!!drooling here!

  15. Dear Indosun

    That fish recipe looks good.

    This is your DH. I have been cooking your recipes for the last three weeks. I cooked Peas Pulao, Swiss chard sambar (with the chard from your vegetable garden), Potato peas kurma, Lima beans kootu. Takes exactly 3 hours to prepare, cook and clean the sink. Whatever I cook lasts for the entire week. Cooking chapathi is a breeze. It also gives me a workout on my shoulders because I make the dough with very little water. I get the dough ready on weekends. Today I adventured from my standard recipe of Arisiyum parupu by adding sundakkai vathal and the pavakkai vathal into it. It wasn't bad at all. I am going to try Manathakali keerai poriyal recipe perhaps with the green Chard.

    Thanks for those simple to follow recipes for someone like me who hasn't cooked in almost 20 years.

    Your DH

  16. Indo,
    I was in India recently and read about Salma in the same Hindu supplement. I looked for "Hours past Midnight" in both Landmark and Higgin Bothams, couldn't find it. I hope you have better luck and if you do find it, please let me know where you got it.



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