Yes, I know what you’re thinking. A recipe for Masala Fried Fish?? I mean, how basic right?! You chuck some chili and turmeric paste and deep fry the fish and it’s done. Fini. Like honestly, why even bother listing it here. But I have, because we make this at home very often and it’s used as a bait to eat the rasam rice. It’s part of the family repertoire of quick fix meals when all we want to do is put our legs up and chill or in most cases, order in some greasy Chinese.
Rasam Rice was always a boooring thing to have as a kid. Spiced Water and Rice? – come on, we all knew that was the easiest thing our parents could rustle up. So there was a clear rule. No one ate any rasam rice without some fried items on the side. It could be bajji, bondas, papad, potato chips (any excuse for chips) or if they were in a good mood – chicken kabab or fried fish. It worked paradoxically for Fried Fish though. The many years of eating rasam rice with fried fish now ensured everytime we made fried fish –rasam rice was the only choice. For the life of me, I can’t imagine eating Fried Fish with anything heavier now!
The type of fish (White, Saltwater Fish) and the cut (1/2 inch slices with center bone and skin) is extremely important here. I like Seer and the husband likes Pomfret, so we usually stick to these two. I’ve tried Ravas (Indian Salmon) with some good results as well, but it’s generally not as tasty as a Pomfret. You can marinate the fish steaks and let them sit in an airtight container in the freezer for a week and just defrost them before you are going to fry them. And for that exact reason, the husband always goes overboard and buys the whole Fish rather than just a kilo like a normal family of two. He likes the Fried Fish as a snack with his drink and who can blame him?
My mother-in-law has a sneaky little chilli powder that she uses for her marinade, that I even more sneakily called “Padmavathy Chilli Powder”. I intend to suss that recipe out of her soon enough, but I’m sure I’ll just end up with some vague quantities of spices that I can never nail into a coherent mix. So for all practical purposes, I just borrow a batch from her and it sits pretty in my pantry. For the rest of the folks – the chilli powder contains some aromatics like cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves and elaichi. My remedy is to just mix 1 Tbsp of Garam Masala for every 100 gms of Chilli Powder and try to replicate the flavor.
I know the pictures here aren’t the prettiest, but that’s exactly how it looks at home and that’s exactly how it will look like when you make it. I could have gone and bought some banana leaves and tried to contrast the red fish against the green and added some rustic terracotta elements in the background, but who the hell has the time for all that when your stomach is rumbling, right? In a world of prettied up things, it’s strange that the rawness of this gives me so much joy. From my home to yours …enjoy.