Roasted coconut gives this sauce a deep richness, fresh pineapple a sweetness and tamarind a sourness which combined with spices create a complex sauce with layers of flavour. Fish can be lightly poached in it, nuts can be added for a vegan dish or little cubes of paneer for a vegetarian version.
I’ve cooked some big chunks of salmon in the sauce this time, but any meaty fish works well as do prawns.
The tamarind that comes in a block, which you can buy online if it’s not available in your local shops, has far more flavour than the ready made tamarind sauces. You just break off a chunk and pour a little boiling water over it. Once it softens you can mash it removing any seeds and then add it to your dish. The block keeps for months in an airtight container in the fridge.
For 4 portions
1 onion – finely sliced
2 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
40 grams fresh coconut – finely grated and toasted slowly in a thick bottomed pan until lightly browned.
Tamarind – piece 2 cm square soaked in 2 tablespoons boiling water or 2 tablespoons tamarind sauce.
Fresh ginger – piece 2cm square
4 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 fresh red chilli – finely chopped / 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
100 ml chopped tomatoes / passata
2 x 1 cm thick slices fresh pineapple – core removed and cut into small cubes
400 grams salmon – cut into large chunks
Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion sliced slowly stirring from time to time until slightly caramelised. This will take 10 to 15 minutes.
Put the ginger, garlic, coconut, tomato and tamarind in a small food processor and blend to a paste.
Add this paste to the caramelised onions together with the turmeric, coriander and chilli. Add the pineapple and 100 ml water.
Bring to a simmer and cook slowly, covered for 15 minutes.
Add salt to the sauce as needed. The sauce can be made in advance up to this point and will benefit from having time for the flavours to develop and meld.
If using fish, add the chunks to the hot sauce and cook for only about 5 minutes until the fish is just done.
If using nuts or paneer, likewise add them to the hot sauce and let them heat through.
I served my dish with plain boiled basmati rice and Carrots and Peas with Fresh Green Coriander.