Sardines – now here is a fish that makes no apologies about being one. This tiny flavorful fish, for many, is an acquired taste – you either love them or can’t stand them. This recipe is for those in the first category. Once you fall in love with these there is no going back, not only is it tasty but also filled with calcium , protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Good for bones , brains and all in between 🙂 . Why would anyone go back ?
Sardines and small fish like it are popular in many coastal communities. So it was in Kerala. Sardines are plentiful, very nutritious and reasonably priced. It isn’t over fished and are not contaminated with heavy metals and other pollutants either. If that is not good news for a seafood crazy community I don’t know what is! Now for the bad news , these are a pain to clean and your friendly fishmonger wont be happy to clean these either !
This was a chore that our mothers were happy to undertake provided we ate sardines. It was fairly well known in our parts that if you eat seafood you won’t contract certain diseases (ex: goiter) and that the bones and teeth were stronger for it. But as kids we had good reason to be wary of these. Sardines have gazillion bones , as my kids put it, making it a tough fish to handle. Hence the older siblings/cousins were able to get away with “you snooze, you lose” while whisking away your share, until you figures out how to eat it.
Here we sometimes get fresh sardines in the Asian sea food stores. I hate cleaning this one though. This features among the top 10 reasons on my list to build an outdoor kitchen – and before you ask , yes, I do have a list for that. Until that happens canned sardines are are going to be in the pantry often.
So one evening I find myself with a can of sardines and a couple of green tomatoes. Is there enough here to make a quick dinner ? Of course, yes! In the time it takes for the rice to cook I have a delicious curry to go with it. That is something I can live with.
OK, let me be honest – this was not entirely my idea. Few years back I was clearing out the garden beds and ended up with a box of green tomatoes. We had fresh sardines delivered that day – and mom had this fabulous idea to make sardine curry with a few of the raw tomatoes. Suffice to say that we were not disappointed !
Today, I don’t have the luxury of fresh cleaned sardines, but I do have canned ones. So here it is curry in a hurry – but don’t get me wrong , it is utterly satisfying. Sardines, coconut milk, onions and tomatoes – who is to say you are not getting your veggies and protein ? Mom would rather make it with fresh ingredients, but the flavors are still very good in this version.
I use white or yellow onions for this recipe , you could also try shallots or boiler onions. The green tomatoes are just tart enough and flavors the curry nicely. This is not a heavily spiced dish, and flavors are bright and cheery. Serve over a bowl of rice and sit back and relax.
Here is the recipe ..
Isn’t that simple ?
- Use yellow or white onions .
- Slice the onions as thin as possible, and sweat it out by adding salt, do not brown .
- If the tomatoes are not tart enough add a few drops of white or red wine vinegar.
- Do not stir the canned sardines much , they do tend to break easily.
- If you make them fresh , please please invite me …