16 dried red chiles, broken into small pieces
8 medium garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled with a spoon and finely chopped
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cinnamon stick, crushed using the bottom of a pan
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
4 whole cloves
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
4 whole 12-ounce pomfret, rinsed and scored (you can substitute mackerel or barramundi here)
Vegetable oil, for shallow-frying
Lime wedges, for serving
Icy cold beer
- In a medium bowl, combine the chiles, garlic, ginger, tamarind, sugar, pepper, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon pieces, fenugreek, cloves, and vinegar and stir well to combine. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 2 hours for the flavors to mingle. Then transfer to a food processor and blend at high speed to form a paste. Season the paste with salt.
- Place the whole fish on a sheet pan and season the exterior and the interior cavities with salt. Stuff about 1 tablespoon of the paste into the fish and then coat the fish on both sides with paste. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Line a second sheet pan with paper towels. Pour ½ inch oil into a large sauté pan and heat it over medium-high heat until it glistens, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, place one fish in the oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to the paper towels and season with salt on both sides. Repeat with the remaining fish.
- Serve while still hot with lime wedges and icy cold beer.
- From Maneet Chauhan. Reprinted with permission from Chaat by Maneet Chauhan and Jody Eddy copyright © 2020. Photographs by Linda Xiao. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.