This curry taste good with any seafood but the most common ones used are prawns, kingfish, pomfrets, mackerels or what’s in season. When preparing the curry with mackerels, the spiceberry triphal or teppal is added for its aroma and flavour. It goes so well with mackerel curry, a match made in heaven. The dried berries are lightly pounded so that they start to release its fragrance and enhance the curry. Mango slices and the fish should be seasoned with salt before adding to the curry. Addition of fish lends its delicate flavour, making the gravy truly delectable. As they say, a Goan meal is incomplete without rice, fish and curry. Give a Goan some xitt kodi (rice curry) and he will be a satisfied, especially if there is fish in the curry. A delicious curry loved and relished by all.
Triphal or Teppal is a type of Szechuan Peppercorn. When fresh, the berry is green in colour which turns to brownish black when dried, opening up and exposing a black seed. The outer pod is used in curries, lentils and beans, while the shiny black seed is discarded.
It has a unique aroma and flavour, not pungent like peppercorns and has a light lemony taste. Slightly toasting the pods and then pounding them helps release their fragrance. In Hindi, known as “Tilfda” while in Portuguese, it is called “limao pimentose” (pungent lemon). This spiceberry prevents build up of flatulence hence, added to lentils and bean dishes.
4 large or 6 medium-sized mackerels
6 triphal or teppal
1 large or 2 medium-sized raw green mangoes
2 green chillies (slit)
1/2 bouillon cube
2 cups water
Grind to a paste (with water)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen grated coconut
8 to 10 dried Kashmiri red chillies
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 large garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Clean mackerels by cutting off the fins, tail and head. Remove scales if any and the innards. Cut into pieces or keep them whole, wash and season with salt.
Peel, wash and slice mango. Season with salt.
In a pan, add the ground paste along with water after passing it through the blender used in grinding the paste. Add the mango slices and triphal after gently pounding them a couple of times. Place pan on the fire and let the curry come to a nice boil. Let it boil for a couple of minutes for the mango to release its sourness into the curry.
Then add the fish, green chillies and bouillon cube. Lower heat, cover pan with lid slightly ajar and let the curry simmer till fish cooked through, around 5 minutes. Check for seasoning and add salt if needed. (Once you add the fish, do not stir curry but gently turn fish or swirl pan.)
Serve fish curry with steaming hot rice.
- My mother never used ginger or peppercorns in the coconut fish curry. I cook the way she did. If desired, you can add ginger and peppercorns. Noticed that my mother-in-law and sister-in-law (brother’s wife) prepare the same way like my mother.
- Substitute raw mango with other souring agents. When using tamarind, grind a small ball with rest of the ingredients to a paste or soak some tamarind in 1 cup warm water. If using tamarind water, add only one cup water instead of the indicated two cups.
- Adjust consistency of the curry with some water, as desired.
- When adding other seafood besides mackerels, do not use triphal or teppal.
- To obtain a rich colour, use Kashmiri chillies that are dark red in colour. I have used 10 chillies in the spice paste. The curry was not hot but perfectly balanced with spice and sour.