Chinchoni is a classic East Indian fish curry made with fresh ground masala. There are a few variations of this recipe made with or without coconut as well as with or without oil. Today, I make it with fish but you can use prawns as well as a mix of different fish or seafood.
Growing up one of the few things I remember is the village ladies standing on their balconies discussing what to cook or what they cooked for lunch. And, when I would hear chinchoni the only thing that came to mind would be a spicy fish curry!
Unlike fish moile which is made with bottle masala, this is made with fresh ground masala. It had this deep rich color of the red chilies. Sometimes mom made it with coconut to serve over rice but at other times she made it without coconut to serve it with handbreads or apas.
The truth is that there are many variations to this curry.
- Sometimes mom would heat the oil and cook the masala,, then add the coconut and fish pieces.
- At other times she would not use oil at all. Instead, combine everything including the ground coconut in the pot, add water and cook the curry. When it came to a rolling boil she'd lower the heat and drop the fish. Taste and adjust seasoning. Such an easy curry!
- I have added a few mustard seeds and curry leaves which is not authentic but great to take away the fishy smell from fish curry.
Ingredients and substitutes
- Fish - I am using frsh water white fish becuase it is easily available to me. But, you can use surmai, bombil, shark, mooshi, pakat, or even a few different types of fish.
- Ground masala - made with red chillies, cumin seeds, turmeric and coconut. The color of your masala will depend on how much turmeric you add. More turmeric powder will make a beautiful orange while less will give a deeper red like mine.
- Chillies - you can use kashmiri red chillies or sweet red chillies to make them less spicy.
- Coconut - I am using canned coconut cream because fresh coconut is not easily availabe for me.
- Tamarind- you can use a lime size piece of fresh tamarind soaked in ¼ cup water or you can use a tamarin concentrate like me. The concentrated tamarind is very sour so use less and add more if necesssary.
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- 1 lb (500 g) Fish white fish, prawns, shark, pomfret, skate,
- 1 tbsp Cooking oil
- ½ tsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Tamarind soaked in water or ½ tsp tamarind paste
- 2 tsp Coriander leaves chopped cilantro
- 1½ cups (350 ml) Water
- 6 Red chilies Kashmiri or similar - soaked in hot water
- 8 med Garlic cloves
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds jeera
- ¼ tsp Turmeric powder ( up to ½ tsp)
- ¼ cup Ground coconut (up to ½ cup)
- ½ tsp Mustard seeds rai seeds
- 4 Curry leaves
- In a skillet, add the oil, mustard seeds, and curry leaves. Then, and ground masala paste. Fry it for a minute until fragrant. Then add the tamarind juice and water. Bring to a boil.Pro tip - tamarin juice is fresh tamarind soaked in water while tamarin paste is concentrated so very sour and you need to use very little. You can always add more.
- When the curry comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and gently place the fish pieces in the curry. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Pro tip - keep the heat to a gentle simmer to prevent the fish from breaking.
- When the fish is cooked, taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro/coriander leaves.
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