Mathi (Chala) curry /Braised Sardines
Sardine is a common fish in Kerala, easily available and inexpensive. It is a very fishy fish, and one either hates or loves it. Needless to say, I fall into the latter category. I love to fry it or make a curry with lots of chilies. Nothing like a spicy sardine curry to wake up a meal!
Traditionally, Kerala fish curry is cooked in a clay pot. It is like a clay saute pan without handles! When I first came to the US, I found that clay cooking vessels are not readily available here. On my next visit to India, I bought back clay pots with me. I still cook fish in these pots. Times have changed, now you can buy clay cooking pot in gourmet cookware shops, at least in California.
fresh sardines - 1 lb
onion small - 1
ginger - 1/2" piece
green chilies - 3 (less if you don't want it spicy)
oil - 2 tbsp
cayenne powder - 1tsp (less if you don't want it spicy)
turmeric powder - 1/4tsp
tomato - 1 chopped
curry leaves - 5
white vinegar - 1 tbsp
water - 1 cup
salt to taste
Scale and clean sardines. Wash gently in several changes of water.
Crush onion, ginger, green chilies coarsely, I use my small food processor. Heat oil in a clay cooking pot. Add the crushed onion mixture, curry leaves and saute till the mixture is fragrant and the raw smell has disappeared. Next add the cayenne and turmeric powders and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes into this mixture and saute till the tomato pieces are soft. Add salt and water and let it come to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for few minutes. Add the sardines and continue to simmer. When the sardines are cooked and gravy thick add vinegar, take off heat. Serve with fresh cooked rice.