Kerala is well known for its wholesome, flavourful cooking.
Sweet, spicy, savoury and tangy, Keralan food eschews a lot of fatty South Asian staples to retain a crisp signature identity for its dishes that keep their flavour and are good for your body.
Kerala, a state in the Southwest India, is well known for its wholesome, flavourful cooking.
Chemeen Mulakittathu is one such dish, a sweet and spicy fish curry perfect for the hot summers and cold winters alike.
DESIblitz brings you a chicken-based adaptation of this classic recipe.
Chemeen Mulakittathu (serves 4, prep time 15 minutes, cooking time 20 minutes)
- 350g diced chicken
- 180g chopped tomatoes
- 120g diced shallots
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp fenugreek powder
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 green or red chilli, sliced
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 4 tsp tamarind paste
- Coriander for garnish
- In a well-oiled pan, gently heat the mustard seeds.
- Add the diced shallots and cook on a medium heat for 8-10 minutes.
- Add the diced chicken and cook until the outside of the chicken is seared.
- Add the garlic and spices after about five minutes, stir well for 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes, crush down with the back of a spoon and stir well.
- Add the tamarind paste, mix well.
- When cooked through, season to taste and garnish with coriander.
There are at least three different types of sweet flavour in this Keralan dish. The subtle sweetness of the shallots, the tangy sweetness of the tomatoes and the spicy sweetness of the tamarind.
All three pull together to create an extraordinary flavour profile that can work with any number of ingredients. Seafood is the prominent ingredient of choice for this dish, but as you can see it works well with chicken also.
If you are cooking with prawns, put them in the dish for around 5-7 minutes before the other ingredients are cooked through. Vegetarians can also replace the meat with okra or chickpeas to great effect.
Tamarind can often be hard to come across in conventional grocery stores. If you have trouble finding it, a good substitute is to combine equal parts lime juice and brown sugar.
Kerala is known as the land of spices, thanks to its long history with the European spice trade, and records of trades with ancient civilisations dating back to 3,000 BC.
The majority of Keralan cuisine is vegetarian, because the population are largely Muslim. Although meat and fish can be found in some dishes, a lot of the ingredients used are determined by what is allowed by Islamic law.
This is another dish that is versatile. Want more spice? Double up on the chillies. Want a more broth like consistency? Just add 150ml of water early on while cooking.
A great atypical method of serving this dish is to wrap a spoonful of the curry and rice inside a roti, and eat like a burrito. A drier consistency to the sauce would be preferable if you want to avoid your dinner dripping down your shirt.
Give it a try, it’s incredibly easy to make, and won’t cost the earth.