Monday, 8 June 2015

Laal Kaalwan (Maharashtrian Red Fish Curry) Recipe

Move over Thai red curry, I just found a beautiful fish curry right here in aai's kitchen!

Laal Kaalwan (Maharashtrian Red Fish Curry) Recipe 

There it is! The beautiful laal kaalwan.

Laal kaalwan literally means red curry. It is one of the two fish curries aai makes at home. The other one is surprise surprise hirva kaalwan or green fish curry (sounds familiar?). I am not surprised by this great similarity between Thai food and Maharashtrian food. Both are coastal cuisines with a fondness for fish. Both are heavy on spices. And both use loads of coconut. There had to be some similar dishes, right?

Enjoying laal kaalwan is bit of a matter of pride for me. I come from a mostly vegetarian home and I used to occasionally have chicken outside. I had fish for the first time very late in life with my hubby. I fell in love with it so much, that I even love kaalwan which I am told is something that only hardcore fish eaters love. For me, it has also been about being absolutely unafraid of eating new dishes and cuisines, and finding the merits in them.

Laal Kaalwan (Maharashtrian Red Fish Curry) Recipe 

This recipe has been passed down from aaji (my grandmother-in-law) to aai and now even I have tried it. It's not rocket science but tastes like it is! It is a versatile curry that can be made with quite a few salt water fishes like pomfret, prawns, Indian salmon etc. It is also a great way to use up those parts of the fish which we normally can't shallow fry and eat like the head, the tough parts near the stomach or the tail.

Laal kaalwan, like any other fish curry, is best had with steamed rice. We also squeeze a wedge of lime over it.  Baba likes to add ghee  and salt to the mix while eating it. Any way you have it, you will enjoy this beautiful spicy and sour flavourful fish curry.

Laal Kaalwan (Maharashtrian Red Fish Curry) Recipe 

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


For Marinating the Fish

100 gms promfret/ Indian salmon (raawas)/ ghol (Jew fish)/ prawns/ surmai (seer fish) cut into 2 inch pieces
3 tbsps corriander-garlic-ginger paste (recipe here)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2 tsps laal masala/ garam masala
Salt to taste

For the Curry

Marinated fish as above
3 tbsps oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2 medium sized onions roughly sliced
2 tbsps grated fresh coconut
2 tsps magaj (dried melon seeds) (optional)
1/4 cup water
1 tsp red chilly powder
3 tsps laal masala/ garam masala
1 1/2 tbsps lemon juice
Water to adjust consistency
Salt to taste


Take the fish in a bowl. Put in the corriander-ginger-garlic paste.

Now put the turmeric powder, asafoetida, laal masala/ garam masala and the salt.

Coat the fish well and marinate for at least 10 mins.

Soak the dried melon seeds in water for about 10 minutes.

Grind together the onions, coconut and the melon seeds with a little water (about 3 tbsps) till they form a smooth paste.

Heat oil in a deep pan. Add in the turmeric and asafoetida.

When it starts to sizzle in about 10-15 seconds, add in the fish pieces. Saute them in it for about 2 mins. Don't cook it completely or the fish will overcook when we cook the curry.

Add the paste we grinded of onions, coconut and melon seeds.

Add in the red chilly powder, the laal masala/ garam masala and mix well.

Pour in about 1 cup water to get a thin curry consistency.

Season with salt.

Bring the curry to a boil and lower the flame. Let it simmer on low flame for about 5 minutes.

After 4 minutes of simmering, add in the lime juice (not before that or it will go bitter). Simmer for about a minute and turn off the gas.

Serve fresh with steamed rice and a wedge of lime!