Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Masaledar Macchi (Spicy Grilled Fish)

Cooking with a whole fish is always a great experience. Whenever I go grocery shopping, I always pause to look at the whole fish.  Branzino, striped bass, rockfish, mackerel, trout., flounder.  Each fish has a different size, texture and flavor.  

I have made a few recipes using whole fish, such as Pesce al Palermitana and Sauteed Sheephead, Savage Boleks' Style. A while back, I wanted to cook with whole fish again.  I decided to make it a part of a dinner with a theme ... an Indian grill. After a search, I found a recipe for Masaledar Macchi or Spicy Grilled Fish.

While I had the recipe in hand, I could not find any background to the recipe.  I don't know where this dish originated and how it reflects a particular cuisine from the subcontinent.  Nevertheless, the recipe calls for the marinating of fish in a mixture that is reminiscent of Indian dishes that I have both cooked and eaten.  The combination of turmeric, ginger, lemon juice, chiles, garam masala and coconut milk creates a very tasty marinade that adds a lot to the fish itself.

While the paste added flavor to the fish, it presented a problem when it came to grilling the fish.  The recipe calls for flipping the fish while it grills and, toward the end of the cooking, to leave the fish alone so that it could develop a crust.  Although I tried to get that crust, it never really developed, as you can see from the pictures.   Still, the grilled fish served as a delicious centerpiece to a dinner that included tomato chutney and grilled naan with a cucumber raita.

Recipe from RecipesLib
Serves 2-4

2 whole fish, such as trout
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/4 cup of onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 fresh hot green chile, sliced
2 inch piece of ginger root
1 teaspoon of cilantro
1/4 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1/4 teaspoon of chile powder
1 6 ounce can of coconut milk, well stirred
Vegetable oil

1. Prepare the fish.  Wash and dry fish.  Cut 3-4 deep diagonal slits across both sides of the fish.  Rub with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.  Set aside.  

2.  Marinate the fish.  Combine and blend the remaining lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, onion, garlic, cilantro, turmeric, garam masala and chile powder into a smooth paste.  Empty paste into a shall large dish large enough to hold the fish  Add coconut milk and mix.  Leave fish in the paste and milk for 10 minutes.  Flip and let rest for 10 minutes more. 

3.  Grill the fish.  Preheat the grill and oil grilling rack with vegetable oil.  The rack should be placed about 6 inches from the heat source.  Lift fish out of marinade and place it on the rack.  Grill for about 25 minutes. Turn fish once about half way through.  If fish is browning too fast, distance it more from the heat. Do not baste fish toward the end of cooking, so that it can form a crust.


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