My amma used to tell me that , this fish season occurs during the beginning of summer in Madurai (when the lakes dry and the fishes and brinjal would come in auction). During summer (at that time) they used to clean the ponds and the rain water gets collected afresh when it rains and would feed the entire city.
Amma had a house help called Padarathi amma. She had shown us the process of cleaning this fish. I am not a fan of looking at live food. So I request my readers to browse and find the videos on cleaning this ayira meen.
Ayirai meen literally lives in mud there. So it has to be forced to spit the mud from their mouth (may be a tale , I don't know if it is true). So the live fish would be put in milk and let for 30 minutes and within that time , it is believed that they loose all the mud.
Luckily I bought a well cleaned ayirai meen (not fresh) that was farm raised from an Asian store in my area. I didn't go through that cleaning process (I won't and I can't, but this curry tastes amazing, if someone prepares this for us ....ha ha).
My hubby never likes tiny fishes :) So I got a small scoop (1/2 lb) of this for $2.99 / lb.
I have read somewhere that , this curry is actor Kamal's favorite and he would have this fish curry along with idli dosai, during his South Tamilnadu visits. So I too made this one evening , had it with rice and the next morning enjoyed it with dosai :)
Ps: My recipe is a no-tamarind one. This is how we prepare fresh water (tiny) fish in my native. This version is recommended in native health recipes.
|ayirai meen kulambu|
|Aiyirai meen kulambu with dosai|
Ayirai meen - 1/2 lb (200 gm approx)
Tomato - 2
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
coriander powder - 1 tbsp
coconut oil or sesame oil - 1 tbsp
fennel (sombu) - 1/2 tsp
curry leaves - 2 sprig
green chillies - 2 (slit)
salt - 1 tsp (add to taste)
Coconut (shredded) - 1/2 cup
Shallot - 3
cumin - 1/2 tsp
black pepper - 1 tsp
green chilly - 2 (increase as per taste)
Wash and clean the ayirai meen as per need to remove any sand or impurities. Keep aside.
Grind coconut, shallot, green chillies, black pepper, cumin together to a fine paste.
Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil or sesame oil in a wok. Fry the fennel seeds to red. Now add the curry leaves along with chopped tomato and fry till the tomato gets cooked well.
Add 2 cups of water , turmeric powder , coriander powder, salt, ground masala and bring them to a boil.
Now add the cleaned fish and stir only one time before it gets cooked. Spread a few slit green chillies and curry leaves over it. Reduce flame and cook uncovered.
DO NOT stir in between. Just shake the vessel gently to mix the masala with the fish.
Take off heat in 15 minutes.
Ayirai meen kulambu is ready!
Serve over hot rice or along idli or dosai.