Shark is a very strong-smelling fish and is therefore used primarily to make pittu and cutlets. In my family we use it only to make pittu, and we never make kuzhambu (gravy) using it. My mother preferred to use a small variety of shark known as pal sura, but it is not available round the year, and therefore I use the more regularly available larger variety. The pittu recipe I have used comes from my great-grandmother and is very different from the sura pittu prepared in Chennai.
I have not used the green masala which is typically used in Tamil Nadu. This recipe is special because, except for garlic, the other spices used are dry. Coconut of course is used to add richness to the dish. The garlic is not fried in the oil which gives it a crunchy texture. Sura pittu goes very well with rice served with either Vengaya Sambar or Vendhaya Kuzhambu. It’s a wonderful side dish.
Shark provides a very high quality protein of around 21 g per 100 g. It has negligible fat content. It provides 25 mg of niacin. The coconut and oil used add a very small amount of calories to the 96 kcal provided by 100 g of shark.
- 1 kg (approx.) Shark
- 2 Onions, diced
- ¼ C diced Garlic
- ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 2 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
- 2 sprigs Curry Leaves
- 2 tsp Salt, or to taste
- 2 T Vegetable Oil
- 2 C Water
- ½ C Coconut scrapings
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
- Wash the shark well. Cut the shark into large pieces and clean.
- Boil 2 cups of water with a teaspoon of salt.
- Add the shark and cook on low heat till the flesh begins to flake.
- Drain and then discard the water. Allow the shark to cool.
- Remove the skin and the bones. Flake the flesh with your fingers.
- Add to the flaked shark: diced garlic, turmeric and chilli powders, and the ground ingredients. Mix well using your fingers. Adjust salt.
- Heat the oil in a non-stick kadai or wok.
- Add the onion and fry till the onion is translucent.
- Add the flaked shark, mix well, and stir for about 5 minutes, allowing time for the coconut and garlic to be cooked and also for the pittu to become dry and crumbly.
- Add the curry leaves. Mix and remove from heat.
- Shark is very difficult to cut at home. Always get your fishmonger to clean and prepare the shark for you for cooking.
- The garlic is not fried with the onion. It is cooked with the heat from the flaked shark mixture. If you do not wish to have a partially cooked garlic flavour you can fry it with the onion, but I do not recommend it as the flavour will be very strong.
- I have used Kashmiri Chilli powder as it has a mild flavour, and its colour gives the pittu a red tint. If you use any other chilli powder use only half the amount.