A classic dish with a twist, this fish pie is the perfect example of Indian and British fusion food. The spiced, marinated seafood is cooked in a rich, creamy south- Indian-inspired coconut sauce, and topped off with a mustard-seed seasoned mashed potato. It certainly delivers on both flavour and theatre when served at the table - the perfect recipe to serve to your family this Easter.
Masala Fish Pie
MARINATED FISH MIX
500 g/1 lb. 2 oz. (approximately 16) fresh raw king prawns/jumbo shrimp (heads and shells removed)
200 g/7 oz. scallops
300 g/10 ½ oz. salmon, cut into 2.5-cm/1-inch cubes
200 g/7 oz. cod, cut into 2.5-cm/1-inch cubes
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
grated zest from ½ lemon
1 teaspoon salt
a pinch of saffron strands
½ teaspoon Holy Trinity Paste (see below)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
SOUTH-INDIAN CURRY SAUCE
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon finely diced fresh root ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
20 fresh curry leaves
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons paprika
¼ teaspoon dried chilli/ hot red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tomato purée/paste
3 tomatoes, chopped (core and seeds removed)
1 teaspoon palm sugar/ jaggery
400-ml/14-oz. can coconut milk
2 teaspoons cornflour/ cornstarch
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander/ cilantro
1.2 kg/2 ¾ lbs. floury white potatoes (Maris Piper or Yukon Gold)
1 kg/2 ¼ lbs. sweet potatoes
5 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
10 fresh curry leaves
a disposable piping/pastry bag
32 x 14 x 6-cm/13 x 5 ½ x 2 ½ -inch ovenproof dish
Combine all of the ingredients for the marinated fish mix in a large mixing bowl. Cover and put in the refrigerator to marinate overnight. If you do not have the time, allow the seafood to marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature instead.
To make the sauce, heat the oil in a heavybottomed pan over medium heat, add the mustard seeds and cook until they crackle and sizzle. Add the cumin seeds and fry until they pop. Add the ginger and garlic and fry gently for 20 seconds just to remove the raw aroma; they don’t have to be browned. Add the curry leaves, quickly stir and add in the onions and salt. Fry the onions gently until they become soft, covering with a lid to help the process.
Add the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric paprika and dried chilli/hot red pepper flakes and cook until they have lost their raw aroma. Add a splash of water if the pan starts to dry out.
Add the tomato purée/paste, mix well and simmer for 3–4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, covered, until they have completely melted down to form a sauce, stirring occasionally.
Add the palm sugar/jaggery and coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes. Mix the cornflour/ cornstarch with a little water and stir into the sauce to thicken. Allow the sauce to simmer for 3–4 minutes.
Add the garam masala and freshly chopped coriander/cilantro, mix well and allow the sauce to cool completely.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping by boiling the potatoes in separate pans – the floury white potatoes will need 20–25 minutes to soften, while the sweet potatoes will need 15–20 minutes. When soft enough to mash, drain both potatoes and mash together in a large mixing bowl. Transfer the mixture to a disposable piping/pastry bag and snip off the end.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) Gas 4.
Once the sauce has cooled, it is time to assemble the pie. Lay out the marinated fish in the bottom of the ovenproof dish so that it is evenly distributed (every serving should have a selection of different pieces of seafood). Pour over the cooled sauce. Pipe on the mashed potato topping (you can do this with a spoon or spatula if you prefer,
although this may be slightly messy as it can mix in with the sauce).
Prepare the mash seasoning. Heat up the ghee in a pan, add the mustard seeds and fry until they sizzle and pop. Add the curry leaves, then remove the pan from the heat. Spoon the seasoning evenly over the pie.
Bake the masala fish pie in the preheated oven for 25–30 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Serve hot.
Holy Trinity Paste
This paste is vital to most homecooked Gujarati-style dishes. The ‘holy trinity’ of green chilli/chile, garlic and ginger creates a wonderful fresh flavour. It is quite punchy, so you want to cook out all the rawness from it when it comes to layering flavours in dishes. You can quarter the quantities here for a smaller yield.
200 g/7 oz. (about 6) green chillies/chiles
200 g/7 oz. (about 40) garlic cloves
200 g/7 oz. (about 8 x 5-cm/2-inch pieces) fresh root ginger
50 ml/3 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon salt
MAKES 625 G/2 ½ CUPS
Blitz together the ingredients in a food processor to form a coarse paste. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
This recipe is from My Modern Indian Kitchen by Nitisha Patel, available here.
Photography by Clare Winfield © Ryland Peters and Small