Who doesn't love these South Indian flavours? Mahi-mahi, a type of tuna, is the preferred fish for this dish in Kerala, but monkfish works brilliantly too.

Ingredients

If you can’t find fresh curry leaves, use dried ones instead – but do keep an eye out for fresh leaves. When you find them, buy more than you need and freeze the surplus. Frozen curry leaves taste altogether better than dried. This curry base reheats extremely well, but don’t cook the monkfish and rice until the last minute.

Serves: 

  • 40g (1 1/2oz) dry tamarind 
  • 60g (2 1/2oz) coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped shallot
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger 
  • 3 green chillies, split lengthways
  • 120g basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 – 1 teaspoon chilli powder 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 800ml (1 3/4lbs) fresh coconut milk or 2 x 400ml (14fl oz) tins of coconut milk
  • 600g (1 1/4lb) monkfish (prepared weight), cut into 5cm (2 inch) pieces
  • 50–100ml (2-3 1/2fl oz) boiling water or homemade fish stock
  • Juice of 1/2 – 1 organic lime
  • Flaky sea salt, to taste

Method

  1. To prepare the tamarind water, place the tamarind in a small Pyrex bowl, cover with 75ml (3fl oz) boiling water and set aside to soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Make sure the water covers the tamarind completely. 
  2. Strain through a sieve, discarding the pips and reserving the strained tamarind water.
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a 25cm (10 inch) sauté pan over a low heat and gently fry the shallots, ginger and green chillies for 5 minutes until they start to colour.
  4. Stir in the rice, mustard seeds, curry leaves, turmeric, sugar, chilli powder and coriander and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, taking care not to burn the spices or they will become bitter.
  5. Add the coconut milk and tamarind water and season to taste with salt. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer for 4 minutes.
  6. Carefully tuck the pieces of monkfish into the pan, cover and cook for 5–6 minutes until the rice and monkfish are both beautifully cooked.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside, still tightly covered with the lid, for 5–10 minutes. If you feel that the rice has soaked up too much of the sauce, add 50–100ml (2-3 1/2fl oz) boiling water or fish stock to loosen the texture.