I'm sure you're all familiar with the Fennel Bulb. The aromatic white root and fronds widely available in markets worldwide. It is usually used by Italians while cooking or baking with fish. Fennel is sliced thin in salads and served with orange ---a fantastic combination. They resemble 'dill' in many ways.
But, have you tried using dried fennel seeds? This seed is aromatic with medicinal properties especially helpful to the digestive system. Fennel seeds are widely used in Indian cuisine as well as some Middle Eastern countries as a part of combination of spices in certain gravies and for flavoring meats. In the Southern part of India- my home state Kerala, this spice is widely used in curry powders for meat and fish. This fish curry is my version of a friend's recipe. She is originally from the region of Kottayam in the state of Kerala but I've added a few of my own favorites in this recipe...............
Fresh Fish-1/2 lb fish cleaned, de-skinned, with bone-in cut up into 1/2inch pieces,
Shallots- 4 cubed.
Green chillies- 2
GInger- 1 inch piece
Garlic cloves- 4
Black pepper whole- 1/2 tspn
Kashmiri Chili powder-1-2 Tblspn
Turmeric Powder- 1/2 tspn
Fennel seed powder- 1/2 tspn
Tomato Ketchup- 2 Tblspn
Raw mango sliced- 1
Curry leaves - 1-2 stems crushed
Thick Coconut Milk- 1/2 cup
Olive Oil (Coconut oil is best)- 2 Tblspns
Mustard seeds-1/2 tspn
Fenugreek/methi seeds-1/4 tspn
Whole red chillis cut up roughly-2
1. If you prefer to leave the skin of the fish on that is fine, I usually prefer to de-skin the fish for Kerala recipes as much as possible. Cube the fish or leave them chunky just to make sure not overcook it. Keep aside.
2. Coarsely grind the shallots, green chillies, garlic, ginger together and keep aside. Crush the pepper and keep aside.
3. Place a pan( or a meen chatti) over the fire and add the oil, add the tempering spices.
4. Once the mustard splutters and pops, add the onion mixture and saute on a slow fire until the aroma fills the air. Toss in Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric powder, mango slices and 1/2 cup of water. Let cook for a minute. Add the fish, black pepper, fennel powder, ketchup and curry leaves.
5. Cover and cook on a very slow fire making sure to coat the spice gravy all over the fish. Avoid stirring the fish at this stage with a spoon or ladle. If the gravy gets thick rotate the pan gently to stir.
6. Let simmer on a gentle flame for about 10 minutes making sure that the thick sauce is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. It is very important not to stir the curry at this time to prevent fish from breaking up.
7. When the fish has just cooked, remove from fire, add the coconut milk and serve with steamed rice or yuca mash(Kappa).