Some of my most cherished memories are the ones I spent with my cousins in my Mamama (maternal granny's) place. Long before the age of Nickelodeons and Nintendos, our summer vacations would mainly comprise of playing in the frontyard, amidst the trees, despite the scorching heat. Hide-and-seek used to be one of our favourites where we would hurriedly count upto 20 and rush to find the others crouching under the bed or stooping behind a tree. We would revel playing "family" and being pretend mommies and daddies working hard at the pretend office or sprawling our kitchen-set in the pretend kitchen. During one such evening, the daddies brought home some pretend fish (leaves of a tree) and we made some yummy pretend fish fry for them. I don't think my cousins would even remember this day - we were like 8 or 9 years old then, but I couldn't help smiling when I was shallow frying this fish, so badly wanting to relive all those pleasant memories.
I followed my mom's recipe for this one, making a couple of minor changes. The chilli powder I used was a local brand which gave a wonderful colour and was less spicy. Adjust the spice according to your taste. If the fish turns out too spicy, drizzle more lemon juice before serving. Also, if vinegar is not available, replace with lemon juice. I used 7 medium pieces of anjal (surmai / seer fish).
For the marinade
1 tsp chopped ginger
5 to 6 garlic cloves
3 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
3/4 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vinegar
2 tbsp water
Salt to taste
For shallow frying:
Curry leaves (about 5 to 6 per piece of fish)
Grind all the ingredients under "for the marinade" into a smooth paste. [The marinade should be spicy and slightly salty]. Apply it all over the fish and refrigerate for a few hours [I kept it overnight].
Heat oil in a pan. Add lots of curry leaves, roughly torn. Place fish pieces and drizzle some more oil on top. Cover and shallow fry for a few minutes on each side, till the fish is completely cooked.
Serve hot with a dash of lemon.