Most curries are made using ready mixed curry powders. The base of these curry powders are almost always the same- grounded spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, fennel seeds, chillies, coriander, cloves and star anise, to mention a few.
It is the different combinations and ratios of these ingredients that produce different types of curry powders. These can be spice levels and style specific (mild, hot, jalfrezi, balti etc) or ingredients based (fish, meat, kurma).
Fish curry recipe below uses fish curry powder, but you can make it with curry powder of your choice. However, this curry powder is not limited to only fish. You can cook vegetables or bean curries with it too.
600g kingfish slices, alternately, you may use any meaty, firm fish
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 onion, sliced
5 garlic, minced
3 slices ginger, minced
½ teaspoon fenugreek
1 teaspoon spice mix (mixture of mustard seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek)
3 stalks of curry leaves
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
4 tablespoon fish curry powder
1-2 tablespoon chilli powder
2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
6-8 small aubergines, halved (alternately, 1 large aubergine cut into wedges)
10-15 small okra, trimmed (remove the stem and tip)
6-8 cherry tomatoes (or 2 large tomatoes)
1 tablespoon tamarind paste diluted in 1 bowl of water, strain and discard the seeds
Clean the fish slices, season with salt and pepper and smear with turmeric powder. They should be shallow fried lightly on both sides for about two minutes. Remove the fish from the oil and keep aside for later.
Fry the aubergines and okra in the same oil for two minutes as well. Remove them from heat and keep them aside as well.
Sauté the spices (spice mix, fenugreek, peppercorns, curry leaves), onion, garlic and ginger in a pot with 1 tablespoon of oil until fragrant. Mix the curry powders together in a bowl of water and pour it into the frying mixture. Simmer with the lid on for five to ten minutes before adding the fried vegetables. Let this boil for ten to fifteen minutes on medium heat, adding water to dilute the curry to the thickness you prefer (South Indian curries tend to be more dilute compared to others). Pour the tamarind in, add the tomatoes, fish and season with some salt. Boil for another five to eight minutes before serving.
Tip: Day old curries are thicker and tastier than fresh ones, as the vegetables and meat have had extra time to soak up the flavours for longer and the gravy gets more viscous when reheated on the hob. I often freeze mine and defrost it again when I’m having some roti canai.