Madhur Jaffrey is on the list because this multi-talented actress and food writer helped introduce the exotic world of Indian cuisine to a Western audience. She's also written extensively on Eastern vegetarian cooking. Before Jaffrey, there was very little crossover between these two food cultures.
Her second cookbook, left, published in 1981, was one of the first cookbooks I ever owned. It is a beautiful compilation of exotic vegetarian recipes from all over the Eastern world. I love Indian and vegetarian food, so it seemed tailor made for me. It sat on my kitchen shelf for years, and here's my confession: I don't think I ever once made anything from it. Every time I opened it I hoping to find a great dish to make, I found the recipes and the ingredient lists to be just outside my comfort zone.
I took the opportunity of this blog challenge to look up a few more of Jaffrey's books, and I found that as her career progressed, she made it her mission to translate the sometimes off-putting complexity of Eastern cooking into a more accessible form for Western cooks.
The title of the book to the right says it all.
Since I live in New England and great fresh fish is so readily available, I decided to make Fish Fillets in Curry Sauce. This dish actually has Anglo-Indian roots. Madhur explains that Indian cooks in Anglo households would spice up the classic English fish in cream sauce with their native spices. This dish also seemed appropriately light and easy enough for the sweltering weather we're having this week.
Fish Fillets in Curry Sauce (Madhur Jaffrey)2 pounds thick fish fillets, Haddock or Cod
21/4 cups milk
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric
5 Tbsp bread crumbs
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup good curry powder (don't use the ancient tin from the back of your cupboard)
2 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
2-3 tsp fresh lemon juice
Sanders Fish Market had beautiful thick fillets of Cod, and since I was only cooking for two, I got two pieces instead of 2 pounds.
To start, Madhur says to preheat the oven to its highest setting (I used 400 degrees, my oven runs hot) and to lay out the fillets in a baking pan. She combines the milk, salt, pepper, cayenne and turmeric and pours it over the fish. This sits for 15 minutes while you get the rest of the ingredients measured and chopped.
Take the fish out of the milk, reserving it, and coat them completely with the bread crumbs. I used panko crumbs to get a good crunchy coating. Press them in so they adhere. Put the fish in a shallow baking dish lined with aluminum foil and dot with 2 tbsp of butter. Bake for 15 minutes. (I baked it for almost 15 minutes at 400, then broiled the fish for a few minutes to get a crispy brown crust).
After you put the fish in the oven, put the milk in a small pan and bring to a simmer. In another heavy bottomed pan, melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter and then add the curry powder. Stir for a minute and then add the flour. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Then whisk in the hot milk and stir the sauce until it thickens and boils. Take it off the heat and add the cilantro and lemon juice.
Arrange the fish on a platter or individual plates and spoon the sauce over them. Serve extra sauce on the side. I went all the way with the Anglo-Indian theme and served English garden peas on the side.
This was delicious. The sauce was spicy without being too hot, and the thickness of the fillets stood up to the assertiveness of the sauce. The sauce in itself was easy to make and could be the base for other curries. I'm going to put some cooked chicken, potatoes, and peas in the leftover sauce and serve it over rice for tomorrow's lunch!
Our family loves Indian food---we've been to many restaurants over the years, and gotten countless Indian take out meals. But I can count on one hand the times I've attempted to cook authentic Indian food at home. Part of it was not having all the spices at the ready, part of it was a misconception that it would be too involved and time consuming.
I'm so glad I participated in this week's tribute; the result has been exactly what I'd hoped for: I now feel confident to take on the world of Indian food. I've got my eye on Lamb Stewed with Coconut Milk as soon as the weather cools down. Yum!
Check out these other bloggers who are participating in this challenge:
Kathleen - Bake Away with Me
Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan -The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets
Katie -Making Michael Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite