Pan fried Shark fillets – Varutha Sura

Let me tell you at the outset that I am no great seafood expert. I am a relative newbie who has grown to appreciate and slowly enjoy seafood through a combination of peer pressure, joint family dynamics and my daughter’s seafood love. Actually I don’t really have much choice. I am married into it. I am now eagerly learning up everything about cooking seafood. The most important and also the most time-consuming part of cooking seafood is cleaning it. However this recipe requires little or no cleaning whatsoever which makes it an ideal recipe for beginners. Now these sharks (Sura) are not the type of huge ones you saw in “Jaws”. The ones commonly available in the market are the much smaller ones. They’re sharks alright, but just smaller. We bought these at the lighthouse fish market (near Marina beach – more on this fish market in another post). There is another famous fish market at Lloyds road. In all these markets, there’ll be women (men at Lloyds road market) who’ll skin and fillet the fish for you for an extra fee. Shark is usually made into puttu, so you’ll have to specifically tell them that you want these as fillets for frying.   I am really amazed at myself at how much I’ve changed. The very first time that I cooked chicken (this was before being married), I had to clean it but I wouldn’t touch the chicken, I used a spatula to push it around in a bowl of water. Last weekend, I sat and scaled thirukai meen (sting ray fishes). Shark fillets (sura) are extremely soft and fragile, so handle gently, especially while frying. These pan fried shark fillets are delicately flaky on the inside and crisp on the outside and are best had hot as a starter or as a side with rice. The pan fried Sura doesn’t smell as overpowering as the Sura puttu and is also a nice variation. Also Shark (sura) is great for nursing mothers like I mentioned in my earlier post. It really improves your supply. Try it.     Prep time: 5 mins Cooking time: 5 mins Serves: 6   Ingredients Shark/Sura – 1 whole shark skinned and filleted (about 1 inch wide fillets) Red chilli powder – 2-3 tbsp (adjust) Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp Tamarind extract – 1/4 cup Black Pepper powder – 1 tsp Salt to taste...

Curry leaf rice – Karuveppilai Saadham

Karuveppilai saadham or curry leaf rice is another lunch box favourite. Curry leaf rice is a great way to incorporate curry leaves into your diet which otherwise is usually discarded as a well-meaning nuisance. The grated coconut adds texture and the whole black peppercorns give the dish a good punch. Curry leaf rice goes brilliantly well with spicy vegetables (like potato masala) and potato chips. I got especially excited about curry leaf rice when I was a new mother. Karuveppilai is great for lactating mothers, did you know that? Along with garlic, almonds, oats, fenugreek (methi greens or methi seeds), karuvaadu (dried fish), Avarakkai (broad beans), Sura (shark, not the vijay movie – that’s bad for anybody), raw groundnuts and of course milk. This is a great list for new moms to have. In my opinion, it is THE MOST — USEFUL list in the first 6 months after childbirth, even more than the “Top 10 nursery decorating ideas” or “Top 10 accessories new moms should buy”. Those first few months are really stressful when your little one is wailing all the time and everybody looks accusingly at the mother as if she is just not producing enough (Delhi Erumai a enna?). And new mothers are already psyched out by this time by all the advice that’s being hurled at them. A breast pump only makes it worse (even though it is very useful for working mothers). It lets you see exactly how much there is. It becomes a milk meter that you monitor every time to see if you’ve out-scored, if you’ve met the targets. Supply improves tremendously everytime you have karuveppilai saadham/curry leaf rice or any of the other items on this list. This list of “Top 10 foods for lactating mothers” is courtesy my really cool athai who also happens to be my gynaecologist. She was my mother’s too. She is old-school but totally up-to-date, she doesn’t schedule her patients’ C-sections on her outlook calendar, she still waits for it the natural way, she doesn’t suggest surgery or master check-ups for a late period, she doesn’t charge you your ancestral property, you don’t have to wait 4 hours and be checked by assistants before meeting her, she doesn’t baffle you and she doesn’t give the doctor’s talk (like in the famous space shuttle named busspital (hospital purely for business = busspital) where they sit you down, talk very nicely...
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