Making this recipe of Caldinha de Peixe (fish) made me remember my dad. He loved this curry for the subtle sweet flavors and less heat. He also loved any kind of fish as he grew up on a beautiful small island and had access to fresh seafood all the time. In Goa the fish used to make this recipe are pomfret, king fish, prawns or pumpkin. Since tilapia is more readily available in the stores I used it. Caldinha is a popular dish made for feast celebrations.
I have seen a variation of recipes online some with vinegar, tomatoes and ginger. I am sharing with you our household recipe that I remember that does not include the above. On a side note when vinegar was suggested there was a mention of the coconut milk cuddling. My suggestion is to skip it as the required sourness is achieved by adding tamarind.
You can make a few different variations to this recipe. It can be made vegetarian or vegan by adding pumpkin, mushrooms, cauliflower, zucchini, deep-fried tofu or deep-fried paneer. As it is way less spicier it is kid friendly as well.
Serving Size: 4-6
1 lbs of tilapia fillet cut into 4 pieces each
1 medium onion chopped fine
5 garlic cloves
10 whole peppercorns
1 tbsp of coriander seeds
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
tamarind the size of a nickel
1 jalapeno ( de-seed for less heat)
1/8 tsp of turmeric powder
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
salt to taste
couple chopped sprigs of fresh cilantro
Wash the fish apply salt and keep aside.
Grind garlic,cumin, coriander seeds, peppercorns, tamarind and 1/3 of the onion along with couple tablespoons of coconut milk.
Heat oil in a pan, add the remaining chopped onions, saute till soft.
Next add turmeric, the ground paste and saute for 2 minutes.
Add the coconut milk, water and simmer on medium heat uncovered ( else it will spill).
Finally add the fish, season with salt and cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes on medium low heat till the fish is cooked.
Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Serve hot with white rice, appam( rice pancakes), bread or sanam( steamed rice cakes).
A perfect Goan meal would be rice, curry and some nice crispy Goan fried fish…yum!