Start to finish: 30 minutes
This simple dish from Kerala on the southern coast of India features the regional staples of coconut, seafood and fresh curry leaves. Curry leaves resemble bay leaves and can be found at Indian food markets. If they're not available, use a handful of fresh cilantro leaves. The flavor's not the same, but the herbal freshness is similar.
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced, fresh ginger
1 or 2 serrano chilies, split lengthwise and seeds removed (leave in some seeds for a spicier sauce)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup diced tomato
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds cod or haddock fillets, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup fish stock, clam juice or water
10 to 12 fresh curry leaves (or a handful of fresh cilantro leaves)
6 lime wedges
In a large, deep skillet, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. When oil is fragrant, stir in the mustard seeds.
When mustard seeds begin to crackle and pop, stir in the onion. Once onion has become limp, after about 2 minutes, stir in the garlic, ginger, chilies, turmeric, salt, pepper and half of the diced tomato.
Saute, stirring frequently, until tomato has softened and begun to break down, about 5 minutes.
Push onion mixture to the side of the skillet and add the fish in a single layer. With a spatula, scrape up enough of the onion mixture to smear over the tops of the pieces of fish.
Pour the coconut milk and fish stock or water around and over the fish. Scatter the curry leaves or cilantro over everything. Cover and simmer 3 minutes.
Uncover and give the skillet a swirl, rather than stirring the mixture, which could break up fish. Cook a few minutes more, uncovered, if needed to cook fish through. The sauce will be fairly thin.
Spoon into shallow bowls, garnish with the remaining tomato and lime wedges, and serve.
(Recipe from Cheryl and Bill Jamison's "Around the World in 80 Dinners," William Morrow, 2008)