Tag Archive | land of spices

Devilish Hot TUNA Curry

As you well know by now we live right on the coast of the Arabian Sea in the beautiful State of Kerala – the land with an abandonment of Fish, Coconut, Herbs and Spices.


A Keralian household without fish – unthinkable! And of course there are as many different versions of “Red Fish Curry” as there are families in Kerala. This particular curry today is by all means not a typical traditional Kerala Fish Curry, but it is just one of many favourites in our house. This recipe started off one way or another quite differently but over time we perfected it until we got it just right for our own taste – ok, admittedly, one has to like love spices!!! Of course, you can always tone down the heat a notch (or even two or three), but if you do love “the heat” in your curry, then I suggest do not change anything – it is truly so delicious and it will only make you want more.

We love coconut in our cooking, but in this case here we completely omitted this – and don’t you agree, this beautiful red colour looks sooo inviting.

Traditionally this curry is made in an earthenware pot, a “Kalchatti” made out of clay. Unfortunately my “Kalchatti” broke the other day and I have not been able to pick one up from the road side, where vendors selling those for very little money. Somehow cooking this curry in a “Kalchatti” improves the flavour.

So, I made this curry in my normal wok on the gas stove and it tasted equally fantastic (even if I may say so myself!!!).

Again, what you see here in the photographs is just for the 2 of us, with enough left over for the following day, since letting it stand overnight will really improve the flavour. I also used a nice chunk of beautiful Tuna, which JS got from the market.



½ x kg Tuna, washed, skin and bones removed and cut carefully into neat cubes
1 ½ x large onions, halved and sliced
5 x green chillies cut lengthwise
8 x garlic, thinly sliced (our garlic is quite small)
1 x Tbsp fresh ginger, finely diced
2 x large tomatoes, deseeded and cut into quarters
Some sprigs of curry leaves
½ x tsp of Mustard seeds
2 x Tbsp of best-of-the-range Fish Masala Powder (I used a local brand Nirapara)
Little oil and salt and pepper, according to your taste
4 x pieces of Kodampuli (Kokkum), washed and then soaked in lukewarm water for 15-30 minutes (do not discard the water)

1. Soak Kodampuli and keep aside.
2. Wash and prepare Tuna, keep aside.
3. Prepare all your vegetables, keep aside.
4. Heat wok on medium heat and when hot (stay on medium! Heat) add Mustard seeds and wait for them to go ‘pop’ – WARNING: they are real little devils and will spit at you when they ‘pop’ – so do keep your face away.


5. Now add onions, garlic, ginger, green chillies, curry leaves and a little salt. Stir gently – don’t allow any of this to get dark (you might have to regulate your heat)


6. Add 2 Tbsp of your Fish Masala Powder, mix, and now followed by tomatoes, all the Kodampuli and half their water – stir again and carefully add your Tuna into this Masala (without breaking any of the pieces).


7. Add enough water to cover everything well (but, if you want extra gravy, just add a bit more water and the remaining Kodampuli water).


8. Cook gently on medium heat for 10-15 minutes (keep checking) – Done!!!

9. Cover with lid and let it stand for a while before serving. And of course as I mentioned earlier, this is even far superior the following day.

So maybe you might like to prepare this Curry a day before you have guests.


Serve this either with plain white rice, mashed potatoes, mashed Tapioca (Kappa Puzhukku), or chunks of nice bread (after all, this gravy is simply delicious).

Namaskaram, Carina



NAMASKARAM. Welcome to my blog – a blog primarily written for our many friends abroad, old and new, who are generally interested in our part of the world and our way of life, and also for Malayalees who live and work abroad, but like “to stay in touch”.  In short, I like to do my personal bid to promote this LAND OF SPICES – KERALA. This is also a blog which talks about food (oh no! I hear you groan – not another one)…

Food from India and particularly from Kerala  – which is now my new home and has become my life for the past decade…

Food from the country of my birth – Germany and in fact food from around the globe, mainly countries I actually have lived in (like Trinidad & Tobago, Lebanon, Italy, England, etc.) and from countries I have visited, most of them over and over again (like Turkey, Spain, Thailand, France, Singapore, etc.).

The majority of the recipes were given to me by family, friends, Chefs and Hostesses of many private houses, whom I cajoled and even begged at times to share with me their secret of a particularly delicious dish. As time goes by I intend to write about my visits to certain restaurants and hotels, concentrating on my new world in the hope that any visitors will like my personal table.

However, I try not to write about food alone – I hope to include fashion, events, exhibitions and many other things, with my trusted Nikon camera as my ‘constant companion’,  which just might interest some of you and hopefully will bring you back to my pages over and over again and, in time, to make me your friend.

And so what better time to start this blog now with one of the most important and auspicious festivals in the Kerala Calendar – ONAM.


Life becomes a festival when gaiety and culture blend.

Onam delivers the message of both. – Anonymous

ONAM – will be once again celebrated with great joy by every Malayalee, wherever they are in the world. It is the equivalent of our Harvest Festival and marks the homecoming of the mythical Asura King of ancient Kerala, the legendary King Mahabali. On Thiruvonam (the main Onam day, which falls this year on 29th of August), King Mahabali is believed to re-visit every Malayali’s home and meet his people.

Most houses and offices will have their “Pookalam” (Flower carpet), depicting an intricate colourful design. Days before the festival season begins certain streets and markets are lined with flower sellers and we choose the colours and buy the blossoms by weight. Each family will have their own design and competitions are being held in most of the offices and Government institutions for the best and most intricate Pookalam. The making of a Pookalam is often accompanied with the joyful singing of traditional songs and dances (and no, sadly I do not speak Malayalam – so therefore I can only hum along with certain tunes).

Like at Christmas, when there are plenty of a “Father Christmas” around, during Onam most 4* and 5* Hotels, Malls, large and small shops have their own “King Mahabali” to attract and greet customers. Here in Cochin, Sebastian, the splendid doorman of the famous “Grand Hotel” on MG Road is without doubt the most photographed “King Mahabali”. I too, of course, joined the queue of people who came to take his picture prior to their feast of the “Onam Sadya” and hear him greet every guest with his sonoric voice “Namaskaram/Namaste” and to select the traditional offering of sweets from his basket – much fun especially for the Little Ones!

The feast, the traditional meal enjoyed by nearly everybody on Thiruvonam is known as “Onam Sadya” and I, like so many of the guests visiting this famous Hotel, will have previously ordered my “Onam Sadya” complete with traditional Kerala plates (to you known as banana leaves) to take back home with me. JS, my husband and I will have an enjoyable celebration of this all so important festival in Kerala’s calendar.

By the way, Onam is also the time when many of the girls and ladies like do wear their special Saree, unique to our State – known as the Kerala Saree (handloom material with gold designs and border) and their hair is adorned with sweet smelling Jasmine blooms. A wonderful site to be seen and the heady scent of all those Jasmine blossoms can leave you slightly dizzy.

So therefore let me sign off for today with a warm NAMASKARAM – NAMASTE to all of you Malayalees, from our house to yours

                                                             HAPPY  ONAM

Text and all photos: © Manningtree Archive