Masala Fish Fry

Sindhi Fish Fry

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  • 8 white fish fillets, such as haddock, plaice or Vietnamese cobbler
  • 1 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, bashed up
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil, enough to fry

Take a large plastic bag and pop in everything apart from the fish and the oil. Give it a good shake to combine all the dry ingredients. Now add one fillet at a time to the bag and rhythmically rustle it, coating the fish in the masala mix. Remove and do the same with the other fillets.

In a large frying pan, add enough vegetable oil to fry the fish, approximately 5–7cm deep. Heat to a moderately high temperature and test whether it’s ready by dropping in a small cube of bread. If the bread fizzes and turns brown in 30 seconds, the oil is ready. Slip in a couple of fillets at a time and cook for around 4–5 minutes, gently turning over until it’s turned a gorgeous golden yellow and almost ready to flake. Drain on paper kitchen towels.

Serve with lime chunks and tear apart with your fingers.

Masala Fish

The Story Of Sindhi Fish Fry

‘All right, Mike, we’ll have two cod and chips and plenty of vinegar.’

In response, the white-aproned man raised a quizzical eyebrow at Rocky, who turned to Abbu for a clue. Having recently arrived in England, he was keen to embrace the fabric of British life and now his credibility was hanging by a thread.

‘Salt with that?’ enquired the owner.

‘Thanks, Mike,’ said Rocky with a wink, his confidence returned.

Abbu smirked at Rocky’s eagerness and dropped the coins on to the counter in exchange for the parcels of greasy newspaper. Once outside, Abbu gave into his suppressed laughter, slapping Rocky on the back with a free hand. ‘Very good, Rock, very good.’

‘Achar, what for?’ he replied, keenly.

‘“Mike?” What do you mean, “Mike”? Do you know him?’

‘Well, that’s what everybody says to each other: “All right, Mike?”’

Shaking his head and affectionately laughing at his friend’s naivety, Abbu wondered whether to correct him or leave him to provide further amusement through his ignorance. He decided to spare his friend’s embarrassment. ‘Paaji [brother], it’s “mate” not “Mike” they’re saying to each other.’

Rocky dipped his embarrassed face into the newspaper, hiding his flushed cheeks in the packet of steaming vinegary chips, quickly blowing to cool the lump of lava he’d just put into his mouth. With squeaky wooden forks they prised the fish into chunky white and gold pieces and savoured the nation’s favourite dish. They walked silently, deciding whether they liked the tang of vinegar-soaked batter or not. Without looking up, Abbu muttered, ‘Palla.’ Rocky nodded his head and smiled, and for a moment they were back in a sun-soaked street in the Indian subcontinent picking the bones out of palla, fresh fried masala river fish. Their numbers swelled the Sindh river and fed the Sindhi population with its very own version of fish ‘n’ chips … no vinegar required.

 Try this and scores more recipes from my cookbook Urban Rajah's Curry Memoirs BUY IT NOW!!

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