Coated in two spices and ready in five minutes. Easy as.
I first heard of marsala chicken when I moved to New Zealand as a 15-year-old. The dish confused me as it didn’t have any spices in it except for garlic.
In my head I had confused it with the word “masala”, not realising that marsala was actually a type of wine! You see, in India, we have several varieties of “masala” or “atheli” dishes. Like masala fried fish, atheli chicken, masala bombil (lizard fish) and even masala dal. The term “masala” stands for mixed spices and atheli means marinated.
However, the spices you use change from one city to another and from one community to another. My favourite kind of “masala” dish is masala fish fry.
Coated in two spices and ready in five minutes, masala fish fry can jazz up any dish. Who wouldn’t enjoy a fillet of freshly fried fish to go with their boring weekday vegetables or curry. Or, if you’re feeling indulgent you could even just have two fillets of fish with some fresh roti!
Masala fish fry (especially my ghee edition) works best with plain rice and dal. The kick of spice and the creaminess of the ghee complements the blandness of the dal well and makes what many may think of as an ordinary meal, extraordinary!
In the recipe below I’ve used trevally but this works with salmon, snapper, king fish or even some frozen prawns.
2 thick fillets of any firm fish – trevally or snapper works great
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste
4-5 tbsp ghee
Optional: 1 tbsp tandoori paste
Lemon juice for squeezing
Wash the fish well and marinate the required amount of fillets in turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt and the tandoori paste. Let this sit for about 30 minutes.
In a shallow frying pan, heat up the ghee. The quantity of ghee you use depends on the thickness of your fish fillet. You could use less if your fillets are thinner/you’re frying up prawns.
Slowly lower your fish into the pan taking care to not splatter the ghee all over your hand. Cover the pan with a glass lid and day-dream about the goodness of the masala fish fry in your mouth while it cooks for two minutes.
When the two minutes are up, slowly turn the fish around and fry the other side as well. Test that the fish is done by inserting a knife – it should come out clean and the flesh inside should be tender to the touch.
Serve immediately alongside your main meal and don’t forget that squeeze of lemon juice.
I recommend NOT straining the fish on paper towel etc because you want the ghee to add that beautiful fishy flavour to your meal.