Fried Tilapia

Fried Tilapia

Fried Tilapia excerpted from My Thali: A Simple Indian Kitchen by Joe Thottungal and Anne DesBrisay. Photography by Christian Lalonde.

My Thali: A Simple Indian Kitchen Hardcover by Joe Thottungal and Anne DesBrisayLike a tagine or casserole, a thali describes not only a type of kitchenware but a type of meal. A thali is constructed of many small dishes served on a platter that harmonize through contrasting textures, visual appeal, complimentary spices, and sheer deliciousness. Once reserved for special occasions, this traditional way of eating is now a popular way of dining at home.

In My Thali, award-winning chef and author Joe Thottungal shares his favourite home-cooked recipes and stories from his homeland of Kerala, connecting past and present in the world of Indian cooking today. This exploration of food heritage features a collection of 85 signature recipes—from simple raitas to nourishing dals and fragrant curries—that can be easily re-created at home, using accessible ingredients and everyday cooking equipment, and without any compromise to flavour or authenticity. Each recipe can be enjoyed on its own or joined together to compose a complete and balanced meal; suggested menus are included for constructing these “feasts on a plate.”

My Thali celebrates the South Indian cooking and the joys of thalis, both simple and homey, and grand and glorious.

My Thali: A Simple Indian Kitchen by Joe Thottungal and Anne DesBrisay is available at, and   

Fried Tilapia

Serves 6

Don’t skimp on the time the fish sits in this magnificent marinade: the longer, the better, to my mind. In our home, we often buy more fillets than we need for one meal and freeze the rest, smothered in this paste, ready for the next fry-up. The fried onions, rolled in the leftover marinade (we don’t waste a bit of it!), make a fine finish.

2 lbs tilapia (about 4 fillets)

1 Indian or small shallot, finely chopped

2 Tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste (page 23)

1 Tbsp Kashmiri chili powder

2 tsp black pepper

1½ tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

¼ cup coconut oil, plus extra if needed

1 large onion, sliced

1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish to Serve (optional)

Lemon Rice (page 29)

Cranberry-Coconut Chutney (page 140)

Cut each tilapia fillet in half lengthwise. Pat dry with paper towels, then place on a baking sheet or in a shallow bowl.

Using a food processor or a mortar and pestle, combine shallots, ginger-garlic paste, chili powder, black pepper, turmeric, salt, and lime juice. Process or pound into a smooth paste. Spread the paste on both sides of the fish. Cover fish and marinate in the fridge for at least

3 hours and up to 1 day. (Fillets can also be frozen in their marinade.)

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, until oil is shimmering. Working in batches to avoid over-crowding, add fish to the pan (reserving excess marinade) and fry for 3 minutes on each side, adding more oil if necessary. Set cooked fillets on a serving plate and keep warm.

Meanwhile, add onions to the leftover marinade and mix well. Add a little more coconut oil to the hot frying pan if necessary, and add the onions, sautéing for 3 minutes, or until lightly browned and wilted.

Serve fish with hot onions and lime wedges. Lemon rice and cranberry-coconut chutney would pair very well.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing Inc.

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