When I published my earlier post about being unwell and needing to change to a largely vegetarian diet, the last reaction I had expected was this…‘Vegetarian! Gaddar!!! (traitor)’. An extremely brief and to the point sms that Aniruddha received from a close friend. Can’t help but love it! 🙂
So, to placate him and others who may be harbouring similar sentiments, here’s a coastal fish preparation I cooked for a potluck with my fellow food enthusiasts and cooks on the weekend – Malvani Fish with Amboli (rice and lentil pancakes) and Hirvi (green) chutney.
The recipe I normally use for the Malvani fish is one that I’ve adapted after a couple of trials from The Essential Marathi Cookbook by Kaumudi Marathe. This book incidentally is a great read about the food from my community and contains a treasure trove of recipes. The amboli recipe is the same as a regular idli or dosa recipe, just cooked a little differently. And the hirvi chutney, made from coriander and coconut, is my mother’s recipe. I have talked fondly about this chutney earlier on the blog: The chutney I grew up with…
This dish is a winning combination of flavours and textures. Soft, slightly sour rice pancakes dipped into a fiery yet light gravy and balanced with the refreshing taste of the coriander and coconut chutney! Unfortunately I couldn’t enjoy it myself but everyone at the potluck seemed to have liked it a lot. And given most of them were non-Indians, I was pleasantly surprised that they could all handle the heat level, in spite of my slightly generous hand with the chillies.
I’ve started getting requests to share my recipes, so here are the recipes I use for the Malvani fish and Amboli! The only recipe I cannot share is the green chutney, since that is a family secret 😉
Malvani Fish (adapted from the Essential Marathi Cookbook by Kaumudi Marathe)
- 500g fish – I used Bocourti fillets, but ideal would be Pomfret
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 1/2 – 2 tsp salt
- 1 – 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 8-10 curry leaves
- 5-6 pieces of kokum
- Spice paste (everything to be finely ground)
- 6 small garlic cloves or 3 large ones
- 1/4 inch piece of ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 8-9 black peppercorns
- 3/4 cup freshly grated coconut
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 9-10 red chillies (preferably Bedgi)
Marinate the fish with salt and turmeric and keep aside for around 10-15 mins. Grind all the spice paste ingredients and keep aside. Heat oil and fry the onions for 3-4 mins. Add the spice paste and cook for another 3-4 mins. Add around 2 cups of water, curry leaves and the kokum and let the gravy cook for a good 10-12 mins on low heat. Add the coconut milk and sugar and stir well. Then add the marinated fish pieces and let them cook. Be careful not to overcook the fish. Adjust for salt and sugar as needed. Before serving garnish with chopped coriander.
Amboli (Rice and lentil pancakes)
- 1 1/2 cups rice
- 3/4 cup urad dal (black gram with the skin removed)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp methi seeds (fenugreek)
Wash the rice and urad dal well. In one bowl, soak the rice and fenugreek seeds, while in a separate bowl, soak the urad dal. Both need to be soaked for 7-8 hours.
After 7-8 hours, drain the water and wash the rice and urad dal gently. Then grind them separately with a little water. Make sure that both are finely ground and that there is no graininess in the batter. After grinding, mix the rice and urad dal in a bowl and add the salt. The batter should be thick and not runny. Stir well and leave to ferment for 12-13 hours or overnight. Once the batter is ready, heat a frying pan, brush a little oil on the base and then pour a ladleful of the batter. Spread it around gently to coat the pan, but don’t spread it too thin, as ambolis should be a little thick. Cover the pan and let one side of the amboli cook for 1/1.5 min. Then flip it over and let the other side cook for the same time. The above quantity will give you around 20 small pancakes (4 inch) or alternately you can make bigger ones.