Karl’s Cari Poisson (Mauritian Hake and Aubergine)

Karl (my supposedly semi-retired office mate) has taken to asking me every day when I get up to leave from my desk (or now when I get up to go for the daily walk that Beatriz is making me do) – What are you going to cook tonight? He doesn’t say Are you going to cook tonight – which would afford a different kind of thought in me. So anyway – I often say I don’t know - what shall I cook, or I have such and such at home what shall I do? On this occasion (end jan 2019) I said tell me a recipe for fish and aubergine – I have aubergines at home and can walk to the fish market today. So the answer was Cari Poisson – a Mauritian traditional Creole dish, and I was to buy any rounded (not flat) white fish like cod or something and hake if possible. Anyway – cooked it last night and Mandy came over – and it was truly wonderful. I think it was the combination of tomatoes with a touch of tamarind which lent it a rounded sourness.

I kilo hake steaks (or any rounded white fish), ideally cut into two to three inch chunks

2 large aubergines (or equivalent weight of smaller ones) cut into finger shaped pieces

I can tomatoes

2 x 1 inch pieces tamarind (soaked in a cup of water)

1 large or 2 medium onions, fine slices or chopped

3 small fresh chillies cut fine

1 handful of parsley leaves

1 handful of methi leaves

½ teaspoon of methi seeds

2 tablespoons g&g paste

2 teaspoons Cumin powder

2 teaspoons Fenugreek powder

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1 teaspoon Turmeric

1 teaspoon Coriander powder

1 teaspoon Cinnamon powder

10 cloves (bashed up into coarse powder)

Seeds of 10 cardamoms (bashed up)

1 teaspoon of shahjeera (black cumin) (bashed up)

2 teaspoons of salt approx. (check)

Cornflower

About twenty leaves - karyapak

About a cup of sunflower oil

cari poisson.jpg

Sprinkle the fish pieces with half the cumin & fenugreek powders, and the mustard powder, and a bit of salt (you could also marinate in this way ahead of time). Then touch the skin side on some cornflower. In a large kadai or wok or very large frying pan – heat half the oil (quite hot), then fry the fish pieces in batches, skin side down first (then turn) for not more than five minutes – maybe even three minutes, until they’re white with slightly brown bits. Put aside. In the same oil (add a bit more if needed), fry the aubergines for ten minutes until they look cooked but are not quite done. Put aside. Add the rest of the oil into the kadai, put in the methi seeds, they will sizzle a tad, then put in the karyapak, let it splutter. Then the onions. Let it now cook on low heat, until onions are transparent. Then add the ginger and garlic paste and stir in. Mix the rest of the cumin, fenugreek, coriander, cinnamon powders, and the bashed up cardamom seeds, cloves and shahjeera, and salt and turmeric with a bit of water into a paste and add it in. Stir around for a few minutes until well mixed. Now add the can of tomatoes, and the squeezed out water from the tamarind, chuck in the methi and parsley leaves, stir and let the whole simmer for ten minutes. Then put in the fish and the aubergines, adding more hot water if needed to basically cover the fish and aubergines. As in the picture. Cover with a lid and let it simmer for a good ten minutes.

And that’s it. I get the feeling that the herbs one uses and the powders too – are flexible. So they seems to combine thyme with coriander. I didn’t have thyme or indeed coriander leave, so I used parsley. Don’t use mint, though, I would say.