As fish curries go, this is probably one of the simplest to prepare and healthy too. I’ve often wondered about the origin of the name for this curry. “Phanna Upkari” literally translates to stir fry with mustard seed seasoning and this dish is not a stir fry but rather a curry that surprisingly does not have the traditional coconut base. This is usually prepared with mackerels and served with white rice and is one of my favorite dishes.
- Mackerel - 1 lb, cleaned and cut into 2 to 3 inch pieces
- Onion - 1 large, chopped finely
- Chilli Powder - 1 1/2 tsp (more or less depending on your spice tolerance)
- Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
- Tamarind paste - 1 tsp
- Coconut oil - 2 tbsp
- Water - 1 cup
- Salt to taste
Heat a flat bottomed vessel on medium heat and add 1 tbsp of coconut oil.
When the oil has heated, add the chopped onions and fry till the onions are translucent, you don't have to brown the onions.
Add the chilli and turmeric powders and fry for a couple of minutes, taking care that the chilli powder does not get burnt.
Add the water, tamarind paste and salt and cook till the water boils.
Lower the heat, add the fish and cover and cook for a few minutes till the fish turns opaque. If you overcook the fish, it will pretty much disintegrate into the curry.
Drizzle with the remaining coconut oil and serve hot with white rice.
- You can substitute coconut oil with vegetable/canola oil, but coconut oil imparts a distinctive flavor to this dish.
- You can substitute mackerels with pomfret, king fish or shrimp, I used spanish mackerel for this recipe.
- This recipe does not contain coconut, but there are variations of this recipe that call for ground coconut, I will post the recipe at a later date.
- I happened to return home unexpectedly early from school one afternoon. My mother had prepared phanna upkari but there was no rice so she quickly made a few rotis for me and surprisingly, the combination tasted great! So from that day on, she would always make a couple of rotis for me when she would make phanna upkari, Aparna continues the tradition now!