- 1 kg any sustainable firm white fish, filleted
- 2 large onions
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 1⁄2 t finely chopped garlic
- 1 t ginger, finely chopped
- 2 T masala
- 2 t ground cumin
- 2 t ground coriander
- 1 t turmeric
- 3 T apricot jam
- 1 1⁄2 t salt
- 1⁄2 t freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup white grape vinegar
- 1 1⁄2 cup water
- 100 g brown sugar
- 8 peppercorns
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- Chutney, for serving
- Bread, for serving
- For the banana and litchi raita, mix:
- 2 small bananas, peeled and diced
- 4 litchis, peeled
- 1 cup plain yoghurt
- 1 T lemon juice
- 1⁄2 t salt
- 1⁄2 t sugar or honey
- a handful grapes, halved
- 2 fresh mint sprigs, finely chopped
Skin and debone the fish.
Peel the onions and slice into rings. Fry in a little oil in a medium-sized saucepan until soft. Add the garlic, ginger, masala, cumin, coriander and turmeric and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the apricot jam, salt, pepper, vinegar, water and brown sugar. Tie the peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves in a muslin cloth and submerge in the mixture. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, then remove from the heat.
Fry the fish fillets in a little oil until just cooked through, keeping them whole.
Place the fish in a plastic or ceramic dish. Remove the muslin bag from the pickling mixture and pour the latter over the fish. Refrigerate uncovered until cool, then cover with a tight-fitting lid or foil until ready to serve. Pickle for at least 3 hours.
Remove the fish from the fridge 30 minutes before serving to bring to room temperature.
Cook's note: In the past, fish and a variety of vegetables were pickled as a way of preserving them. In my modern version, the piquant blend of sweet and spicy flavours contrasts well with the coolness of yoghurt and sweetness of the salad. I like to serve this dish at room temperature and pickle the fish for only a few hours before serving: this way it’s still tender. The fish will become firmer the longer it is pickled.
First published in TASTE issue 71, April 2012.