Monday, April 18, 2011

Tandoori Fish Fry (Tandoori Macchi)

Tandoori Macchi has been a pleasant winter discovery for me. While my husband is a strong carnivore (using it for the sheer lack of any other term), I prefer to hyper-analyse and be educated about everything that goes down my throat. Which takes my meat research a step further. Of all the meats I eat, Chicken and Fish are my preferred ones. Throw a choice, I prefer to stick to the safest lean fat - Fish. I have mentioned earlier on this blog that both of us detest Fish curries in any form. Having said that it leaves us with very less choices albeit just a single one - frying fish with all different spice powder combinations and relinquish the taste. Replicate if happy with the trials.

I have a huge concern with Chicken which we buy from the local grocery. I spend minutes and a sometimes very long time pondering and ruminating over the labels - growth hormone free, no steroids used, chicken fed on healthy edible elements and not just left over animal trash. We are what we eat - my father reiterated the statement time and again when I was a child owing to my fussy eating habits! This is the quote which has grown on me over a period of time & I cherish it now as better sense had prevailed! End result being - eat what you like and if sceptic sense of judgement persists, abhor the food group till you find healthy cuts and convincing produce. Finally, more often than not I restrict myself to the easiest and safest choice - Fish. Part of fishy fascination explains the fact that I detest cleaning meat, the less disturbing scenes I see while cleaning meat, the more motivated I am to cook, feed and be fed if I am lucky!

During one of my daily jabber conversations, one of my cousin informed me that she was making Tandoori Macchi. The convo was quick and I could not get time to ask for the recipe. This was many months ago. Few weeks back, I bought Fish and wanted to try something new and refreshing. I used store bought Tandoori masala and some spice powders to bring about the fish flavour. Traditionally, this version of Fish needs to be cooked in a traditional clay oven called - Tandoor mostly found in Northern regions of India and in specialty hotels & restaurants; the temperature is almost at 900 F in a Tandoor, and is certainly higher than that of conventional ovens at home but the taste is very earthy and crispy. I skipped using the oven and opted for a hot stove top griddle instead. We both like Tandoor or any kind of grilled food. This recipe is an ode to that taste and flavour which one can find only in specific restaurants in South Asia.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Marinade time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

Fish fillet (boneless) - 6-10 pieces
Tandoori Masala - 2 tablespoon
Lime juice - 1 tablespoon
Red Chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Garam Masala powder - 1 teaspoon

Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon
Black Pepper (whole & crushed) - 1/2 teaspoon
Semolina (Sooji) - 4-6 tablespoon

Oil - for frying + marinade

Clean the fish fillet and use centre cut portions; this ensures that all the fish pieces getting cooked evenly. Thaw at room temperature if frozen and let rest in warm water for few minutes for a quick thaw. Wash the fish in multiple change of water till clean. Take care not to cook the fish in the bargain. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. Cut them into 2" bite sizes.
Add all the spice powders mentioned, mix well with hands. Add lime juice towards the end. If you prefer eating fish with lime juice drizzled, then pour half of the quantity in the marinade and preserve rest for serving. The marinade will form a thick red paste on the surface of fish. Add a tablespoon of oil to the marinade. This prevents the fish from drying up while frying & keeps it moist. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes have elapsed, heat a shallow pan, dredge the pieces one by one in Sooji, shallow fry on both the sides for few minutes till they are fork tender. Drizzle oil on the sides to cook the fish. Fish cooks very fast so keep a watchful eye. Once done, serve with a drizzle of lime juice. I did not add the juice since I had added enough to the fish marinade. This fish fry is very spicy and tasty. Reduce spice quantity as per taste and preference.

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