Trying to research on the origin of Fish Molee I came across people(elderly people) who said that it probably might have originated centuries ago when the French, Spanish and Portuguese people sailed to the coastal belt of Kerala. In the barter system, they took all our spices to their country and in return left one of their delicacies. I had also read somewhere that mole in spanish actually means stew. So guess there ended the hunt for the origin.. And as the famous Malayalam saying goes, "Kuzhi ennanda, appam thinna porey?"
What makes this dish special?? Firstly the freshness of the fish. Molee/stew has a very mild flavor thus if you use a bad fish, the mild gravy would not be able to cover it up. You can use any fish like prompret, seer fish or pearlspot to make molee. Secondly, the fresh coconut milk. Coconut is one thing which is in abundance in Kerala. But getting the milk would be the most tough part in this recipe. If that part is resolved rest everything is done. I use only freshly grated coconuts milk. Do not prefer canned or milk powder. And finally the way it is prepared. The fish is marinated and slightly fried before stewing it. Frying the fish has two advantages. Handling it becomes easier and it makes the dish different.
Now, lets plunge into the recipe!!
- 2 medium sized - Karimeen or pearlspot, cleaned and scored
- 1 tsp - Turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 2 Tbsp - Coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp - msutard seeds
- 1 large - Onion, thinly sliced
- 1" piece - Ginger, julienned
- 2 large - Garlic cloves, julienned
- 2-3 - Green chillies, slit
- 2 sprigs - Curry leaves
- 1 tsp - Pepper powder
- 1 - Tomato, sliced
- 1/2 cup - Thick coconut milk (Onnampaal)
- 1/2 cup - Slightly thin milk (Randampaal)
- 1 cup - Very Thin milk (Moonampaal)
- Lime juice / Vinegar(chorka) to taste
- Salt to taste
- Smear the fish with turmeric and salt and keep it aside for 15 minutes.
- Slightly fry the fish in a flat pan.
- Heat a meen chatty(earthen pot used for cooking fish) and pour the coconut oil. Crackle the mustard seeds.
- Add the ginger and garlic and saute for half a minute.
- Add the Onion, curry leaves, green chillies and saute till it becomes transparent. Add the tomatoes and saute for a minute more. Donot mash the tomatoes. Add the pepper powder.
- Simmer the heat and add the thinnest coconut milk/Moonampaal and place the fish carefully. Season with salt and cover the pot and cook the fish. As the fish is half done while frying you just need to cook for another 2 minutes.
- Now pour the 2nd milk / Randampaal and stir slowly. Let it cook slowly for sometime till the fish completly absorbs it.
- Now remove the pot from the fire and pour the thick milk/Onnampaal. Place it on low fire again for a minute and lift the pot and gently shake so that it gets mixed . Do not stir as the fish might break.
- Take it off the stove and add some lime juice or Chorka(it is a vinegar made out of toddy - again a by product of coconut). Top it up with some coconut oil in the end.
- Serve with appam, pathiri, idiappam or even boiled rice.
This recipe is participating in the curry mela held by Cook4allseasons by Srivalli http://cooking4allseasons.blogspot.com/2008/07/announcing-curry-mela-event-to.html