In South India, time was when people didn’t eat fish for two months during the monsoons. Some said it was bad for health – maybe it was because this was the spawning season and our forefathers knew that for the oceans to yield more food, we needed to be restrained during this season. Whatever the reason, fish pickles were made for this time and were eaten instead of fresh fish. My mother used this recipe – without the vinegar, though.
1 kg fish – preferably king fish or surmai
150 g garlic
Few green chillies
4 stalks curry leaves
1 tsp turmeric (haldi) powder
1½ tablespoons red chilli powder
2 tablespoons Kashmiri chilli powder
2 tsps sugar
3 cups vinegar
¼ kg oil
Salt to taste
Cut fish into ½” cubes after deboning the fish. Rub a little oil onto the pieces and keep aside in a perforated plastic bag for 2 hours. Heat oil and fry the fish till light brown. Do not stir. Drain well.
Chop chillies, garlic, ginger and curry leaves. Heat oil and fry them, then add turmeric and chilli powder. Add fish, mix well, add the vinegar, sugar and salt and cook for 5 minutes. Cool well and bottle.