Nigel Slater, guardian.co.uk, Updated: April 19, 2013 16:10 IST
In this extract from Kitchen Diaries II, Nigel Slater spends New Year's Eve grinding and toasting spices and making a mess.
New Year's Eve
Simple, satisfying, almost effortless cooking is all very well. But sometimes I want to grind spices and toast them, make stock, make a bit of a mess, use every pan and bowl in the kitchen. Tonight, I make my friend Jeremy Pang's curry again, it's not complicated, but it is more involved than most of my daily cooking. I end the day with a warmingly spicy curry, earthy with cumin and curry powder, refreshing with the sourness of tamarind. A recipe to play with, to tweak, twist and tinker till the recipe is to my taste. I follow the recipe, but it is about more than that, it's about cooking or the thrill and joy of it all, about having a good time in the kitchen. I can ask for no more.
Tamarind fish curry
Serves 4, with rice onion
4 cloveslime leaves
5bird's eye chillies
1 tbspcoriander seeds
1 tbspchilli powder
2 tspcurry powder
4, medium sizedwhite fish fillets
For the tamarind stockfish stock
1 tsp or to tastesugar
Finely chop the onion and garlic. Crush lime leaves, curry leaves, chillies, cumin and coriander seeds in a food processor, then add the chilli and curry powder and 3 tablespoons of water to form a paste. Roughly chop the tomatoes. Cut the fish into large pieces.
Mix all the tamarind stock ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Heat half the vegetable oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add the onions and garlic and brown very lightly, then stir in the spice paste and continue cooking for a minute or two till fragrant. Add the tomatoes and the stock, cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes with the occasional stir until soupy. Check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper and tamarind paste as necessary.
Put the remaining oil in a frying pan, melt the reserved butter with it, then add the pieces of fish. Let them colour and lightly crisp, then add them to the curry, scatter over the coriander and ladle into bowls.
Extracted from The Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, RRP £30. To order a copy for £19.99, with free UK p&p, go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop
or call 0330 333 6846Tamarind fish curry. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin