Malabar Coast fish kofte with coconut sauce

Malabar Coast fish kofte with coconut sauce
Serves 6
500g white fish fillets
½ tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp white vinegar
3 shallots, grated or minced
2 green chilies, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp dried coconut
the zest of one lime

1 tbsp garlic paste
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp cumin seeds
I red onion, grated
1 tsp white poppy seeds ground to a paste*
½ cup yoghurt
½ cup thick coconut milk
50g butter
fresh coriander leaves
vegetable oil for cooking

To make the kofte
Cut the fish into chunks. Mix the turmeric and vinegar with a little salt. Marinate the fish in the vinegar mix for 30 minutes.
Drain the fish and process it in a food processor with all the remaining ingredients. Do this on the pulse setting as you want the fish to retain some texture; it should come away from the sides of the processor jug and form a large ball (just as dough does)
Shape into golf-ball size balls gently between the palms of your hands and then slightly flatten them so that are more disc like.
Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
You can choose to gently shallow fry or steam the kofte. Set aside when cooked.

To make the sauce
Mix the garlic and ginger pastes with a little water to make a paste.
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a wok or a heavy based pan over a medium-high heat. When hot add the cumin seeds and allow them to ‘pop’ then mix in the onion and stir until it softens a little. Mix in the garlic and ginger and the poppy seed paste and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in the salt and then the yoghurt and stir for 1 minute.
Stir in the coconut milk. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the sauce for 10 minutes. Stir the butter into the sauce.
Just before serving slide the kofte into the sauce and allow to warm through. Serve garnished with fresh coriander leaves.

* White poppy seeds are available from some Indian grocery stores and can be difficult to find. If you can’t get any please do not substitute black poppy seeds – these are not the same thing and they make the sauce look like black sludge. The best substitute is raw cashews or blanched almonds.

Prawn Moily

Adapted from The Essential Kerala Cookbook  by Vijayan Kannampilly .

This dish is simple to prepare but delivers great flavours. It could serve equally well as a weeknight or dinner party dish. Moily is eaten in Kerala accompanied by soft rice based bread (pathiri) or pancake (appam) but you could eat it with rice if you prefer. You can use fish instead of prawns in this recipe. I have also made a version in which I substituted star anise for the cinnamon (as I did not have any) and that was terrific.

Serves 4


500 gm prawns (shelled weight)

juice of 2 limes or lemons

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic

3 cloves

1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces

1 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp whole coriander seeds

2 tsp whole black pepper

3 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil

¾ cup finely chopped red onion

2 -3 green chillies, finely chopped

1 tbsp minced fresh ginger

12 curry leaves

½ cup coconut milk


Blend the lime juice with the turmeric powder and salt and marinate the prawns in this for 30 minutes.

Grind the garlic, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and black pepper together and then blend with 1-2 tablespoons of water to make a paste.

Heat the oil in a wok or deep-sided fry pan; add the onions, green chillies, ginger and curry leaves and fry until the onions soften. Stir in the ground spice paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the prawns and stir these around for 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and continue to stir until the prawns are cooked through.