Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fried fish with Agal - an extract of garcinia or kokum

Fried fish is something the hubby and I, both love. A simple meal of daal, rice and fried fish is at the top of both our lists of most cherished comfort foods and we have this as often as we can. We are also fortunate to have access to excellent fish here in Kharghar, both fresh water and sea water varieties.

The usual method is to smear the fish pieces generously with salt, turmeric and a good dash of chilli powder and leave them to marinate for 15 - 30 mins before frying. Today, K decided to do something different.

Earlier this year he had worked on an archaeological excavation at Chandore, near Mangaon, that is on the way to Kolhapur and Goa. One of the benefits of working in the villages of India is getting access to some of the finest ingredients for the kitchen.

This time he came back with a huge amount of Kokum (Garcinia indica), something I identify easily with the delicious sharbat that sees us through the heat every summer. I even have a small quantity of the dried kokum fruit in my pantry for adding into the Parsi style coconut curries. He brought home made sharbat, loads of the salted fruit, and a big jar of 'agal'.

I had never seen nor even heard of agal before so I was quite daunted to see the big jar full of this beautiful, though completely unfamiliar new addition to my pantry. Bottles of agal were promptly shared with some of my foodie friends and a more reasonable quantity was saved for our own use.

It has a gorgeous deep pomegranate colour and has uniquely sharp tart flavour - something that K thought would elevate the fried fish from its regular everyday avatar into something much better. How right he was!

Another staple from these trips into the Konkan that K always brings back is kurdai. I've had rice kurdai and wheat kurdai and it's hard for me to decide which ones I like better. They're a kind of papad and must be deep fried and served hot. They're similar to sago papads in that they swell up beautifully and are crisp and light on the palate - a perfect accompaniment to daal and chawal.

Fried fish with Agal

6-8 pieces of firm fish - K used Bhetki or Barramundi
chilli powder
1 tablespoon agal

oil for frying.

Wash the fish pieces and drain off the excess water. Marinate in the mentioned spices and agal for at least 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a pan and fry the fish pieces. Dribble the extra marinade onto the fish pieces so they remain moist and succulent.

Two to three minutes with the skin side down and then flip over and cook another minute or two.

We had the fish with hot ambe mohor rice, a nice masala daal that was tempered with lots of garlic, green chillies and fresh coriander, and of course, a pile of kurdai :)


nisha said...

Reminds me of our chat the other day...and what a lovely lunch this would make....simple pure joys off life. And again i love your crockery :)

Anjali Koli said...

Fish and kokum in any form is an excellent combo and I am glad you tried this fry. We do stir fries with kokum but not with fries and ofcourse curries too. I love kurdai they are lovely to just snack on too.