Starry Starry Eyes…

Mela Episode 3: Keralan Fish and Spicy Wilted Spinach by Yudhika Sujanani...

Mela Episode 3: Keralan Fish and Spicy Wilted Spinach by Yudhika Sujanani…

It’s always a bit daunting to recreate someone else’s recipes…and for the 3rd episode of Mela, I was taken aback when my lovely producer asked me to re-create the recipes of Michelin Starred Chef, Atul Kocchar.

After reading through his recipe, I realized that we share a similar food philosophy – I keep it simple and so does he…Atul also seems to be a ‘old is gold’ chef….he uses simple techniques and makes use of fresh herbs like curry leaves and coriander….garlic and one of my favourites, coconut milk! I am sure that we both would disagree though on the pro’s of using frozen ‘box fish’ – it’s sometimes difficult to source fantastically fresh fish in Jozi so I use the convenient option….

I don’t enjoy fussy food and must declare, that after cooking up Chef Atul’s Keralan Fish and the Spicy Wilted Spinach, that I am starry eyed….I think I have a food crush on this chef!

I did change the recipes slightly…cutting down on the whole green chillies and also by adding tomatoes to the wilted spinach to suit my personal tastes! If you missed the episode, click on this link…

Just a quick tip…I met with Kaye and Tamsyn from AMC cookware. We discussed pots and pans….and I had to explain what a fish pot was….its a wide AMC pot that is not deep. The fish needs to be poached in the sauce in a single layer to prevent it from becoming an absolute mush!


Here is the recipe…

Keralan Fish
7ml salt
7ml turmeric
4 fish fillets, 600g
30ml coconut oil/sunflower oil
1 onion finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 green chillies, sliced lengthwise
5ml red chilli powder
Handful of curry leaves
1 x 400g tin coconut milk
Small bunch fresh coriander, chopped

Here’s how
Gently rub the fish fillets with 5ml turmeric and 5ml salt.
Heat the oil in a 30cm AMC pot, then sauté the onion with the 2,5ml salt until pale golden brown.
Add the chillies, half the curry leaves and garlic – sauté until fragrant.
Add the red chilli powder and remaining turmeric.
Pour in the coconut milk and simmer gently until the sauce begins to bubble.
Place the fish fillets into the sauce and simmer on a low heat setting until the dish is cooked through.
Heat a little sunflower oil in a pan.
Once the oil is hot, fry the remaining curry leaves until they splutter.
Garnish the fish with fresh coriander and fried curry leaves.

Spicy Wilted Spinach

15ml sunflower oil
2,5ml mustard seeds
2,5ml cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
5ml coarse salt
2 dried red chillies
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tomatoes, blanched and chopped
800g chopped spinach

Heat the sunflower oil.
Add the mustard seeds and once they begin to splutter add the cumin seeds.
Add the onion, salt and dried red chillies, then sauté until the onion is light golden brown.
Add the garlic and fry until fragrant.
Stir the chopped tomatoes into the onion and simmer until they soften.
Add the chopped spinach and sauté until the spinach wilts.


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