I took a trip this week to my local Indian market, which I have been wanting to do for quite some time. Every time I try to get it together to cook some Indian dishes in my kitchen I realize how woefully inadequate my pantry is for the task. Shopping this week didn’t help me too much on that front but I found a couple of topics for articles so I will take it as a win.

I have an affinity for pickled items in general and unlike my predecessor I love pickled herring. My time in Sweden opened my eyes to it and I have been in love ever since. I was anxious to try this one. When I opened the jar the smell was intoxicating. I suppose if you don’t like the smells of Indian food you would not like this either, but this was smelling like a winner.


Visually it was hard to sort out what was going on in the jar but it looked good to me.

Monochromatic to be sure but up close you could see the spices and the tomatoes and the larger chunks of what I hoped would be fish. I had to do some research on the ingredients and the preparation of the fish. Once I pulled some out into a bowl and poked around a bit I was a bit distressed by the hardness of the fish pieces. Turns out they are fried prior to being jarred which explains it well enough to move on.

As I was going for a taste the aroma of the spices was very pungent and the first thing that hit me on tasting was the saltiness. Wow. Exceedingly salty up front and it took a moment for the other flavors to pick up. Lots of spicy notes,very tangy,  the ginger was a standout flavor, garlic, and of course the flavors that all come together into what we typically think of as curry. The texture of the fish was chewier and firmer than I might have liked, almost like it was made with a dry, salt cured product instead of fried fish. I think I may need to try some different varieties of this to see if I can find some fish that is not so chewy or salty.  The fish flavor, once it finally made its way to my palate, was strong and I think it was likely an oilier fish that was used like a mackerel or something similar. I like strong fish so that is a positive for me. Based on this tasting, unless you really chewed it for a while you would not likely taste the fish much at all. The level of salt put it firmly into use as an ingredient rather than a condiment or something you might use straight. As is I think this would be an amazing base for a soup or a stir fry.

Try it for sure.




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3 Responses

  1. Chris H

    This sounds incredible. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it the next time I’m in an ethnic market that has any respectable south Asian section.

  2. heartlandroad

    I was fed some of this by a Keralan friend’s mother, who had made it herself while visiting. I sort of liked it, but wow! Is it strong stuff! The same sort of philosophy as Indian lime pickle – condiments that smack you in the mouth until you submit. They don’t just fry the fish, they fry the absolute living daylights out of it until it is brown and crusty and translucent all the way through. It’s probably one of those things you invent when you have way too much fish to eat and don’t want to waste it, and in a climate like South India, drying or smoking is not really an option.


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