Kirstie Allsopp: Mdoroni Swahili fish curry
“Having spent quite a lot of time in India and East Africa, I have enjoyed some very special spicy dishes. This recipe is one of my favourites, and it comes from Naomi, who is the cook at Mdoroni, a beautiful house in Kilifi on the Kenyan coast. Kenya is a fantastic country, which I first visited when I was twenty-five. This delicious fish curry brings back happy memories of that amazing trip.”
- 500g white fish fillets, cubed, or peeled prawns
- 2 tbsp plain yoghurt (optional)
- handful of fresh coriander leaves for the curry sauce
- 4 tbsp coconut or sunflower oil
- 2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 chillies of your choice, chopped
- 480ml water
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed to a paste
- small knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, freshly ground
- 2 tbsp medium curry powder
- ½ tsp tomato purée
- 2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 large sweet green pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 bunch of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks
- 1 chicken stock cube
- 1 x 250ml carton coconut cream
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- First start the sauce: put the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, add the onions and stir them for 2 minutes, until nearly brown. Add the chillies and fry until the onions are dark brown. Turn the heat down to low.
- Holding the saucepan lid in one hand, add 50ml of the water to the onion mix, then immediately replace the lid and cook for 1 minute. Turn the heat up to high and stir until the water dissolves in the oil.
- Add the garlic and ginger and fry for 3 minutes, then add the turmeric, cumin and curry powder. Fry for about 4–5 minutes, until the spices smell good. Stir in the tomato purée as they cook.
- Put the tomatoes, green pepper and fresh coriander (leaves and stalks) into a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons of the remaining water and blend to a smooth paste. Add this to the hot spice mixture, and keep cooking and stirring over a moderate heat until it becomes a smooth purée and smells beautifully aromatic.
- Crumble in the stock cube and add salt and pepper to taste. (Be careful as the stock cube will probably be quite salty already.) Now pour in the remaining 400ml water and leave the mixture to simmer and bubble for 5 minutes. Add the coconut cream and bubble for another 5 minutes.
- Gently tip in the fish cubes or prawns and cook for 4–8 minutes (the time depends on how big the pieces are and how high the heat is). If using white fish, do not stir as it will break up: simply shake the pan if necessary to mix the fish into the sauce.
- When the fish turns opaque and is cooked all the way through, turn the heat off and add the yoghurt (if using) and the fresh coriander leaves. Shake the saucepan to spread them through the curry. Leave to stand for 2 minutes, then serve with chapattis or poppadoms, rice, cucumber raita (topped with a few toasted cumin seeds and a little extra chopped cucumber) and mango chutney.
- Extracted from Kirstie’s Real Kitchen by Kirstie Allsopp, published by Hodder & Stoughton. Photography by Rita Platts © Hodder & Stoughton 2017