Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Halibut with tomato-curry cream (Machhli Tamatar)

It always pleases me when I fiddle around with ingredients and find out that it's already a Thing. The curried fish with tomatoes and creamy sauce I was thinking about turned out to be the Indian dish machhli tamatar, fancy that. I've been craving Indian spices - anise, cinnamon, fenugreek, ginger - all traditionally used medicinally for stimulating the appetite and aiding digestion. Plus, I'd picked up some amazing young ginger and fresh turmeric at the Asian grocery over the weekend, and was eager to use it. The halibut at New Seasons looked good, and I had a half pint of cherry tomatoes left in the coffers.

I carved out a curry paste from fresh curry leaves (in the freezer), a garlic clove, grated ginger and turmeric, mustard and fenugreek seeds, dhana jeera (a ground cumin and coriander blend), a little of my homemade seven-spice and a squirt of lemon juice (pound the shit out of it in the mortar and pestle until a paste forms). I smeared this into salted and peppered halibut fillets and let it marinate for a bit while I got the rice cooking.


I melted some butter and olive oil (instead of ghee) in a hot pan and tossed in sliced onions and the cherry tomatoes (halved). They hissed and sputtered for a bit, then in went the fish. After I flipped the fish (5 minutes or so) I added the tub's last couple of tablespoons of crème fraîche. I think it's more traditional to use yogurt and cream, but I didn't have those and besides, crème fraîche is just another cultured cream product and this worked really well. Top the fish with micro-cilantro from the garden.

I also whipped up a quick chutney of mango, red chili and golden raisins (add a pinch of garam masala or seven-spice, plus a drib of lemon juice and honey) and this was refreshing with some warm naan.


Serve with peppermint sweet tea and basmati rice.

36 comments:

Sweet Charity said...

I've been messing around with halibut and curries for a while too, getting weird looks from the boyfriend who seems to think fish has no place in a curry. All the while, I'm all "India has a huge coastline, as if they ignore all that fish, sucka!"

Eric Hensley said...

Looks delicious! I bet the fresh curry is amazing. Did you make the naan?

I like the substitution crème fraîche
better anyways, because its all buttery and delicious. It can also take a beating in the pan.

Lo said...

I'm starting to get my legs with Indian cuisine -- and I SO love it when beautiful things like this happen (often by accident). We're normally on the vegetarian end of things (Indian) at our house; but, halibut is a great fish -- and really should make it into a curry every now and again.

Great work. So, I take it you're off the comfort food bandwagon, if only temporarily?

duodishes.com said...

Curious about that homemade 7-spice...Mind sharing?

Manggy said...

Hmm... Your appetite needs stimulating? WAIT! Don't kill me yet! I mean, with food like that, I wouldn't have any problems with appetite ever! ;) I know the dish is probably long gone by now, but it's taking all my strength not to book a flight to Oregon when I look at that pic :) (well... I could make my own...)

Darlene said...

Looks absolutely delicious! Now you got me thinking Indian tonight.

Elra said...

Hungry....
This halibut sounds so good. Please leave me some, I am on the way to your place, right now.
Cheers,
elra

Bellini Valli said...

This curry dish sounds amazing to me Heather. How lucky to have curry leaves in your freezer:D

Foodycat said...

That sounds amazing! I don't really like creamy curries EXCEPT the seafood ones, so that would be right up my street.

You seem to have your chops back! This is fantastic

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I have totally been craving Indian food lately too! What is that about? This dish looks so good, Heather!

LC said...

Let's see...3-hour drive south...plus beer run...Can you keep it warm for me? Hopping in the car now...

Heather said...

holy crap. that tomato curry cream is getting made this week. i want it so badly!

tons of land said...

fenugreek - that sounds like a swear word. reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4t6zNZ-b0A

Heather said...

Charity - Your boyfriend is due for a good mind-blowing.

Eric - I did not make my own naan, sadly. Trader Joe's has good stuff.

Lo - It comes and goes, but I am trying to eat healthy when I can stomach it. :P

Chrystal - It's a blend of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, mace, star anise and cardamom. I use it for lots of things.

Marky - I get so nauseous that I have to force myself to even finish shopping for the ingredients, let alone cooking and eating. :\

Darlene - It's always a good night for Indian!

Elra - Come on over, darlin'. :)

Valli - I picked them up at the Asian grocery awhile back, and it's very convenient to have them in the freezer.

Alicia - I do like a nice Jaipur veg or a chicken korma once in awhile, but the creamy curries are pretty much made for seafood.

Jenn - I dunno what it is - I never crave it! Must be the moon.

Lang - You'd better hurry...

Heather - It was really delicious. I need to make more of that paste and freeze it.

B - I have had enough of these muthafenugreekin' snakes on this muthafenugreekin' plane!

Peter G said...

Your take on Indian is fantastic Heather! Again, you amaze me at the combinations you play with and the wonderful results you achieve!

Christine said...

For what it is worth, I hear the nausea is a good sign, but you know, no personal experience here. But holy hell does that fish look delicious. I have an anti-Indian spices boyfriend. It breaks my heart.

Brooke said...

I need to try my hand at the homemade curry. I still buy the tubs of premade stuff like a douchebag. I'll keep my eyes open for curry leaves.

Ken Albala said...

OH YUM and DOUBLE Yum, does that look scrumptious. I think I will have to do it tonight, even though all I've got is salmon in the freezer. Hey how about coconut milk instead of creme? Might make it a little more Laotian, throw in lime leaves and galangal. But the tomatoes definitely front and center.

~Dana said...

LOVE the pictures! So colorful!

Zenchef said...

Say Machhli tamatar ten times... FAST!
Would drive you nuts, i'm telling you. I tried.

You've got micro-cilantro in the garden? You're a world class chef voodoolily! Nice job as always.

matt wright said...

holy crap, this sounds awesome. I am always so bloody impressed with your diverse food knowledge. Me, I really just stick to french cooking with NW ingredients, you can cover the whole board, make it look effortless, and darn tasty at the same time.

not fair.

anno said...

Late to the party, but, oh my, this still looks awfully good. Could encourage me to try something more with curry than simply adding a tablespoon or two of my favorite Penzey's blend.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Very nice recipe. My husband loves halibut and I'm always looking for new ways to cook it for him. Indian food rocks!

Heather said...

Petah - I'm sure an Indian person would think it's a strange honky version of their food, but it was tasty. :)

Christine - That's what I've heard too, so I just try to roll with it.

Brookie - The premade stuff good, and I'm pretty sure it's what a lot of Indian (and Thai) home cooks use.

Ken - Ooh, a Laotian version does sound nice.

Dana - I thought the blue plate would look pretty with the red and orange. ;)

Stephane - Well some of the seeds from last year sprouted and I picked it when it was only tiny. :P

Matt - This dish was similar to French cooking, just using some Asian ingredients. No biggie.

Anno - It takes marginally more effort, but the flavor is exponentially better.

Rachel - Sir Pickypants actually likes halibut?

toni said...

I love it when dishes just emerge out of what we have around, and are guided by our cravings. This is my kind of dish, Heather. Love, love, love it!

Kevin said...

What an amazing meal!! Great flavour combinations.

cook eat FRET said...

i think kevin said it all...

kyouell said...

Machhli Tamatar = boy's name?

Cynthia said...

I'm drooling here. What an inviting plate that is.

glamah16 said...

Glad to see you are eating healthy and you can take the spice.

peter said...

Claudia beat me to it. It's like haiku mashed up with a koan, and it BLOWS MY MIND.

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

I know what you mean about "inventing" a dish only to find out it's already a dish.

We had a Sikh Parade here in NYC over the weekend and ALL the food booths were free (including drinks and dessert). Food was great, but I have to say this looks better.

Annie said...

I never know whether to be impressed or frustrated when an "amazing-look-what-I-came-up-with" dish turns out to be Page 438 in some random cookbook. The curry dish looks great - can't wait to try it out!

we are never full said...

gorgeous. not only nice to look at but even the title is making me salivate. have you been turned off by any foods now that you're pregnant? i would think certain flavors would hit a gag reflex. just curious.

Melissa @ For the Love of Health said...

That looks really amazing!!

And so does the Strawberry stack from your older post! :-)

Gorgeous photos!

denise said...

wow--that looks spectacular!