Goan fish curry

Goan fish curry: journey to wellness

Goan Fish Curry

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This is delicious served with cauliflower rice or brown rice and of course tastes even better the next day in the unlikely event there are leftovers.

 

Listening to the landscape whisper – Ningaloo Coast

 

“We shall not cease from exploration, and at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” T. S. Elliot

I have always thought the beach is the ultimate democratic space but in Goa the democracy is cranked, the way everything in India is cranked, heightened, more of itself.

Another week has flapped its wings and rested. I have been drinking in the skies and listening to the wind delivering secrets in my ear. Revealing the landscape. In essays on travel Laurence Durrell says that all landscapes ask the same question in the same whisper, “I am watching you, are you watching yourself in me”? In my personal journey to wellness I have been watching myself in the landscape. I have observed my own blooms, a tiny bud gradually opening.

I have been thinking about harmony in place and the powerful effect this has had on my wellbeing but I have also been reflecting on what we bring to place. How do our perceptions of a place impact our time in it? As I was roasting and grinding the spices for this curry I was thinking of my time in Goa.

The ubiquitous Brahmin

I did not want to go to Goa. I was in search of the real India. Oh the pretension. After Rock patiently explained that it was his holiday too, and he would very much like to go to Goa, we set off on the well worn path. I was under duress and packed with preconceived ideas about a place I had never set foot in.

Maybe it was the way we pronounced it. Benaulim, a small Goan beach we had selected for its inclusion of Indian tourists. A place Indians holidayed in was a place we wanted to see. It sounds a little like Palolem which is what the bus ticket agents thought we were saying. Maybe they just took one look at us, another two westerners in grubby loose cotton and thought it must be Palolem we really wanted.

Traditional fishing boats rest for the evening

Off we traveled, in the wrong direction to one of the most tourist dense places in Goa. As we passed the wood fired pizza restaurants and the shanties selling vibrant trance gear we realized we were most definitely in the wrong place but we were there and we set our bags down laughing at our mistake. Later that night we wandered down to the beach and sat in one of the many shanties selling fresh fish in a homemade tandoor.

We sat with our toes in the sand under a juicy pink grapefruit sunset and watched the local kids play an exuberant game of soccer among the wooden fishing boats. Cows and stray dogs slumped in the sand also took in the scenes as people strolled with aimless ease along the shore.

I might need a little reminding now and then but I hope to arrive in a place with a complete open heart and an adventurous free spirit.

Israeli party goers sauntered down the beach. They moved like oil being poured. They were beautiful stoned parrots. The bright trance clothes that had looked so ridiculous hanging in the stores were transformed to a thing of Beauty on their nut brown bodies.

We sat for hours and hours drinking in the scene and I loved it. I loved it with all my heart. I have always thought the beach is the ultimate democratic space but in Goa the democracy is cranked, the way everything in India is cranked, heightened, more of itself. In the mornings the fishermen returned as party goers enjoyed early morning druggy swims. Two totally different worlds, not colliding but colluding. This is what tolerance looks like.

It would be totally disingenuous of me not to mention the double edged sword that tourism brings to places like Goa.  It provides a flourishing local economy while threatening the local culture. This is a problem Goa has had to deal with since the 1960’s. I spoke to one woman who despaired at the situation. She did not mind girls in bikinis on the beach; she just couldn’t understand why they could not put a shirt on to leave the beach. I can’t either. It is culturally inappropriate and completely obnoxious but is it a reason not to visit. No, it is not.

I thought I was a free spirit but a few pairs of Thai fishing pants and no fixed abode a free spirit does not make. I was, and still can be a complete control freak. Like the colonials before me I arrived in India bracing myself against it instead of opening myself to it and allowing it to be what it was.

Learning to let the landscape reveal herself on the Ningaloo Coast

I might need a little reminding now and then but I hope to arrive in a place with a complete open heart and an adventurous free spirit. I hope to always allow a place to reveal itself to me. To stand in the landscape and listen to the question it asks “I am watching you, are you watching yourself in me”.

 Goa, slightly corrupted, wholly beautiful, bold, brash Goa. Hopefully the place I learnt a lesson in being a traveler. They got a few things right in the 60’s those hippies. Just go with the flow man. 

Goan fish curry: journey to wellness

By: Bell Harding

This is delicious served with cauliflower rice or brown rice and of course tastes even better the next day.


Servings

Prep time

Cook time

Recipe


Ingredients

  • 1 red onion – finely diced
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 3 star anise
  • 800 gm firm white fish – I used Queen fish
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp cardamom pods
  • 4 to 6 dried red chili – more or less to suit personal taste
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 large piece fresh ginger grated – approximately 4 cm in length
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 8 fresh curry leaves – substitute with dry curry leaves if not available
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil

Method


  • To make the masala toast the cumin, coriander, peppercorns and cardamom until they are fragrant and making popping noises.
  • Place in the mortar and pestle and pound until finely ground removing the cardamom husks as they separate. Add the remaining masala ingredients and pound until you have a paste like consistency. Alternatively you can use a food processor or blender for this purpose.
  • Sweat the onion in the coconut oil on low heat until soft and translucent. Increase the heat. Medium to high. Add Masala paste, cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
  • Add coconut milk and Continue to simmer for another 20 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Add the fish and the star anise.
  • Cook a further 15 to 20 minutes on low heat or until the fish is cooked.
  • To make the tadka heat the coconut oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot and sizzling add the curry leaves and mustard seeds and shake the pan on the heat until the seeds pop. Be careful not to burn the mustard seeds or it will be bitter.
  • Drizzle the tadka over the curry and scatter with fresh coriander.

  

Tried this recipe? Mention @wellbeing_magazine or tag #wbrecipe!

Bell Harding

Bell Harding

Bell is wholefood cook and a barefoot gypsy. In search of a life less ordinary, she packed a tent and art supplies and took to the road. Seeking the dirt and poetry in the Australian landscape, she also discovered a path to wellness. Bell discovered what it means to be well by healing herself from weight gain and alcohol dependence. She draws on a professional career in cooking to create recipes that celebrate real food and shares her journey as a curious nomad.

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