Catfish is one of the most commonly eaten fish in my household, along with salmon. I usually pan fry it with some simple spices but this time I decided to make it into a Karahi style gravy/curry.
Catfish has a mild taste without any ‘fishy’ smell and thus lends itself well to recipes containing aromatic Indian spices.
I grew up eating fish curry made with bone-in fish but since good bone-in fish is hard to find here in Houston, I usually stock up on boneless fish fillets which are easy to cook as well as eat. One has to be a bit careful though, so as not to break the delicate fillets while cooking.
Before cooking any kind of fish I wash it with some whole wheat flour (atta) which helps to get rid of any kind of ‘fishy’ smell. Even though catfish fillets typically don’t have a strong smell, I still prefer to wash them with flour just to make sure. Simply rinse the fish and sprinkle some flour over it. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes and wash again. Leave it in a colander to let excess water drain before cooking. Pat dry with paper towels.
This Karahi style thick curry is made with loads of fresh tomatoes, cilantro, green chilies and garlic. Freshly roasted cumin and coriander powder are the game changers in this recipe. You can easily substitute any mild tasting boneless or bone-in fish of your choice but cooking times may differ.
Fish Karahi can be served with plain boiled rice or rotis.
Catfish cooked in a Karahi style gravy with tomatoes and aromatic Indian spices
- 2 lbs Boneless Catfish Fillets Cut into 2-3 inch wide strips
- 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 2 tbsp Garlic Paste divided
- 2 tsp Red Chilli Powder or according to taste
- Salt according to taste
- 1/2 cup cooking oil divided
- 6-7 Roma Tomatoes finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp Kashmiri Chilli powder optional
- 1 tsp Roasted Cumin powder
- 2 tsp Roasted Coriander powder
- 1 tsp Crushed Red Chillies
- 1/2 Cup Cilantro chopped
- 6-7 Green Chillies Slit
- Ginger Juliennes For Garnishing
Wash fish pieces and sprinkle flour all over them. Let the fish rest for 10-15 minutes and wash again. Leave in a colander for some to drain excess water. Pat dry with paper towels.
Marinate fish with 1 tbsp garlic paste, 1 tsp red chilli powder (or according to taste) and salt for 10-15 minutes.
Heat about 1/4 cup oil in a wide frying pan. Sear the fish on high heat for only about a minute on each side.
Heat the remaining oil in a large flat bottomed wok or karahi. Add 1 tbsp garlic paste followed by chopped tomatoes. Fry for high heat for about 3-4 minutes.
Add salt, red chilli powder, Kashmiri chilli powder and turmeric. Remember that the marinade also contains salt and chilli powder, so add accordingly. Cover the pan and cook on medium-low heat for around 15 minutes till the tomatoes are soft and mushy.
Add roasted cumin powder, roasted coriander powder, crushed red chillies and fry for a couple of minutes until oil separates from the tomatoes.
Add the fried fish pieces and cook for 4-5 minutes, turning gently once in between. Check and adjust seasoning.
Add half of the cilantro and green chillies. Cover and cook on medium low heat for 3-4 minutes or until fish is fully cooked.
Garnish with remaining cilantro and ginger juliennes. Serve hot with boiled rice or rotis.
- For roasting cumin, put cumin seeds in a frying pan and dry roast on low heat until color changes and they turn aromatic. Keep stirring often and do not roast on high heat so that the seeds do not burn and are roasted evenly. Cool and grind to a fine powder.
- Coriander seeds can be roasted in the same way.
- Kashmiri red chilli powder has a mild taste and gives a nice bright color to the gravy.