The first book I got in the awesome Phaidon range of national classics was India Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant. I thought I’d try and get to know the Indian kitchen better. But it’s so vast and diverse, and the book offers so many recipes that I’ve had a hard time figuring out where to begin.
Except for this one recipe.
It’s called Kothmiratil Macchi, a coastal dish that’s prepared with herring or whitebait in the book. I’ve had a love affair with small fried fish ever since my first trip to Spain at 19. So I just had to make this. Over and over again.
Whitebait versus anchovies
It’s hard to find whitebait here (and since it’s baby fish it’s not very sustainable) so I generally use fresh anchovies for this. Please do check with your fish monger how they’ve been caught, because this will affect how sustainable they are.
Because they’re slightly too big to get a good crisp on the heads before the cilantro and other spices turn bitter I prefer cleaning them myself. The more you get the more work this is, but in my opinion the fiddle is totally worth the hassle.
Coriander Fried Fish or Kothmiratil Macchi
- 500 gr anchovies or other small fish cleaned, rinsed and patted dry
- 150 gr rice flour
- vegetable oil for shallow-frying
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp water
- a big bunch coriander chopped
- 2-4 small green chilies, deseeded jalapenos work as well
- 1 inch piece of ginger peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- Using a sharp knife, score the fish gently on both sides.
- Mix together the turmeric, sugar, lime juice and water to make a paste. Gently rub the paste into the and place in your refrigerator for 15 minutes. It's best not to exceed this time because the lime will cook the fish.
- In the meantime, make the spice paste by mixing together the coriander, chilies, ginger and garlic in a blender or food processor. You can add a few tablespoons of water to get it to smooth out further.
- Spread the coriander-paste evenly over the fish and let sit for another 15 minutes.
- Preheat your oil for shallow-frying in a large skillet or frying pan.
- Gently coat the fish in rice flour and fry in batches until crisp. Depending on the size of your fish this should take 5-10 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels and finish off with a nice helping of salt. Serve with lime wedges for added oomph.
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