Freshwater fish dishes are relished only in interior Tamil Nadu. People in Chennai are not familiar with the taste of these fish and sometimes even mock those who consume it. But now that even marine fish are cultivated in freshwater lakes and can be bought online, the lake pomfret costs Rs. 300/kg while marine pomfret costs Rs. 800/kg! Therefore I have been developing recipes using freshwater fish. In this recipe I have combined the strong smelling radish with the mild flavoured lake pomfret and also avoided using chilli powder. Instead I have used mustard powder to give it a slight bite. This mild fish curry is a great success in my house – not with my fish hating son of course 🙂 It goes very well with chappatis, unlike the traditional fish curries.
Live Viraal is a one-and-half-foot long eel-like freshwater fish, which is a great delicacy in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. I remember my mother buying Live Viraal from vendors, who used to bring a tub of water with the viraal swimming around in it. It used to be bought and kept in an anda (large brass water-storing vessel). The next morning my mother used to rub ash from the firewood stove on to her palms, to be able to grasp the slippery fish, catch it by its tail and take it out into the courtyard and swing it and dash its head against the paving stones to kill it. She used to rub the firewood ash on it and scrape the fine scales off. After slicing it, she used to rub salt on the slices, especially the skin of the fish, before washing it thoroughly. The salt removes the slime which is usually found on the skin of the freshwater fish. Those who are used to marine fish dislike freshwater fish because they do not know this way of cleaning it, and the slime gives it a better taste.
Now, Supreme Seafood in Chennai deliver cleaned ‘live’ viraal slices to my doorstep and thankfully I do not have to go through the gory process of killing it. The recipe given below can be used for any freshwater or marine fish.