Curry powder is a wonderful thing. It makes life a lot easier when you can buy a premixed spice blend to make dinner with but sometimes it just isn’t quite the right ratios for what you are looking for and you have to make it yourself.
Unlike most curry powders, the spice mix I’ve used in this recipe doesn’t contain either pepper or ginger but instead replaces them with tamarind paste giving a slight tang to the curry which goes perfectly with mango chutney. Tamarind paste is one of my favourite ingredients in cooking. It gives sourness to dishes which provides a depth of flavour otherwise lost if you replace the tamarind with lemon or lime juice.
Tamarind grows in pods with a fleshy interior and large flat seeds. The young fruit are very sour and are used in savoury dishes and as a pickling agent owing to the high concentration of tartaric acid in the flesh. As the fruits age and ripen, they become significantly sweeter and start to be used in jam and desserts instead. One of the most eaten dishes which uses tamarind as a primary flavouring is Pad Thai. The sauce uses both tamarind and sugar along with several other seasonings and this mixture of sour and sweet is almost impossible to stop eating.
The recipe below doesn’t use tamarind as a primary ingredient but the addition of it gives the curry sauce a hot and sour flavour which pairs beautifully with a slightly sweeter accompaniment like dahl. The coconut milk gives a creamy, velvety mouth feel to the sauce helping offset the aggressive flavours in the curry without taking away from the taste. Of course depending on how spicy you like your curry, you can add more dried chilli or even fresh chillies during cooking to take your meal from a gentle warming feeling to melt your face off hot. One of the best things about this dish is how quick it is to prepare. The whole thing can be done in about ten minutes. I use a rice cooker at home and I tend to let it finish cooking the rice before I start cooking the salmon for this. The speed of this dish makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner especially if you are getting home late and don’t want to spend ages slaving away over a hot hob.
As always with this kind of meal, you can exchange the salmon for chicken or another choice of meat or fish or even make a tofu or vegetable curry. Just make sure to cook everything first before you add the curry sauce as the sauce cooks very quickly. If you want to cut time even further, you can make up a large batch of curry powder by premixing the spices and just taking a tablespoon as and when you want to make this dish.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Cost per serving: around £2
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp chilli powder (or more if you like it spicy)
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3 large cloves of garlic – minced
½ tsp salt
200ml coconut milk
2 salmon fillets with the skin removed cut in half width-wise
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Mix the turmeric, chilli powder, cumin, coriander, garlic, salt and tamarind in a bowl with 160ml water (2/3 cup).
Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick frying pan until it starts to glisten.
Place the salmon fillets into the pan careful not to get splashed by hot oil. Place the fillets with the side that the skin was on upwards.
Sear the salmon for around four minutes until the underside starts to go golden.
Flip the pieces of salmon and pour in the spice mix. This will bubble a lot so be prepared for a large quantity of steam.
Let the mixture bubble for about two minutes to cook the spices and then add the coconut milk into the pan and stir this through.
Allow the salmon to cook for another few minutes until it is your desired doneness. This takes around three minutes for softer, flakier fish or five minutes for fish that is a little drier.
Serve with rice and your choice of sides. I like to have this with dahl and mango chutney.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. Salmon is my favourite fish and the more ways I learn how to cook it, the more often I can eat it without getting bored. If you aren’t a fan of curry, my pan seared salmon with lemon cous-cous is also a super quick dish and is probably slightly healthier than this one as it doesn’t have coconut milk in it. It you are looking for something a little bit more on the sweet side, check out how to make yourself a peach galette. It’s a sweet pastry covered which doesn’t require any tins – all you need is a baking tray!
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a recipe filled with chocolatey goodness.
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