This recipe for a masala paste comes from my dad's family who traditionally use it for pan frying fish. I don't eat much fish but the smell of this paste makes my mouth water even after I've just eaten a large meal. I also use it for cooking prawns and making garlic bread. The great thing is that once you have made the masala you can keep it in a jar in the fridge for months.
This week I will give you the instructions for the masala paste and how to use it to pan fry fish a la the Pastakia clan in Gujarat. Over the next two weeks I will show you how to use it for prawns and bread. You will find that a little effort in making the masala up front will give you at least 4 quick meals for two in the long run.
For the masala paste:
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1 bulb garlic - peeled
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon light tasting vegetable oil
For the fish:
- A thin slice of butter
- 2 teaspoons masala paste
- 2 skinned cod fillets
- 1 tomato - chopped
- A small handful of coriander - chopped
- 1/2 lemon - cut into wedges
- Heat a completely clean and dry pan for several minutes until it is so hot that a drop of water evaporates immediately.
- Now add the the cumin seeds, cinnamon and cloves and toss until they start releasing their aroma.
- Remove the spices from the heat and crush them using a pestle and mortar.
- Place the crushed spices in a food blender with the garlic, black pepper, salt chilli powder, turmeric powder and vegetable oil. Blend to create a smooth thick paste. Add more oil if required.
- Transfer the paste into an airtight jar and store in the fridge until needed.
- Melt the butter in a medium sized pan.
- Add the masala paste and stir so that the spices flavour the butter and start to cook.
- After a minute or so place the cod fillets in the pan and let them cook until the the edges start to colour.
- Now turn the fillets over and let the other side cook. At this point add the chopped tomato and coriander and let them cook around the fish. Taste the sauce to check the seasoning and add salt as required.
- Once the fish is cooked serve immediately with fresh bread, the lemon wedges and a green salad.