A bit of a feast going on here today. It all started out so innocently with a curry leaf, mustard seed, and yogurt chutney. We made this chutney at the Dublin Cookery School. It’s simple enough to prepare and packed with flavor. Just a few ingredients — yogurt, curry leaves, mustard seed, and turmeric — that mix and meld well, adding just the right balance.
But what to pair the chutney with I initially pondered? In fact, chutney is quite versatile. Roasted vegetables would be nice. Roasted cauliflower, potatoes, or eggplant, perhaps. Or, paired with any number of grains or legumes (rice, lentils, etc). But I found myself at the grocery store eyeing fresh sea bream and instantly thought it would be a perfect accompaniment for the yogurt chutney. I’ll take two.
Next up, I needed something upon which to rest the sea bream — rice, bulgur, quinoa, and couscous all came to mind. And those tomatoes I picked up the other day, well, they are just screaming to be roasted and served alongside the sea bream.
And so once again, my plan to keep it simple spiraled ever so slightly out of control. Yikes, plates and dishes piled up everywhere. But in the end, it resulted in one fantastic plate of food.
Here’s the full menu: Whole roasted fish with a coconut-chile-cilantro chutney on a bed of couscous with roasted tomatoes and a curry leaf, mustard seed, and yogurt chutney. Whew, that’s a mouthful, literally and figuratively.
Okay, back to the yogurt chutney…
First, curry leaves. I’ve written about curry leaves here (used them in a dish I made on a prior occasion — yellow lemon rice with curry leaves). A quick recap form my prior post, Curry leaves are incredibly aromatic, they come from the citrus family; toasting the leaves (in a bit of oil) heightens their aroma and infuses their flavor into a dish.
Next, mustard seeds. A little trivia about (black) mustard seeds…they come from the brassica/cruciferous plant family (same as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage), as they come from the mustard plant. You can sprout the seeds and they’ll grow into an attractive purple sprout — so I’ve read (am going to need to give this a try). In seed form, they add a subtle spicy and nutty flavor to a dish. Just take care when toasting them, as they have a habit of flying all over the place. A wok or deep pan/pot works well to prevent the seeds from escaping.
To make the yogurt chutney just toast the mustard seeds in a little oil and then add the curry leaves and turmeric powder (the latter which is responsible for the chutney’s vibrant and lovely yellow color). This mixture then gets added to thick, Greek yogurt. Season with salt and a squeeze of lime juice. So simple, but so good.
Cleaned, gutted, scaled, and then rubbed with the cilantro-chile-coconut paste before baking in the oven for about 20 minutes. Simple as that.
Curry Leaf, Mustard Seed, & Yogurt Chutney
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
9-12 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup (full-fat) Greek yogurt
lime juice to taste
Heat the olive oil in a deep pan or wok. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they begin to sizzle. Add the curry leaves and turmeric and cook until the curry leaves are crispy, a minute or two. Add the spice mixture to the yogurt. Season with lime juice and salt.
Whole Roasted Fish with a Coconut-Cilantro-Chile Chutney
1/2 cup plus couple tablespoons (for garnish) unsweetened dried coconut flakes, toasted
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
3 gloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3 to 4 green chiles, such as jalapeno or serrano, seeded and roughly chopped
small bunch cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, plus a few extra sprigs for serving
juice of 3 limes
1-inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 (10-ounce) whole white fish, such as sea bream, branzino, snapper, rainbow trout (scaled and gutted)
lime wedges to serve
Preheat oven to 350F.
Spread out the coconut flakes on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and toast until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and saute until soft, but not browned. Scrape into a food processor. Add the cumin and mustard seeds to the frying pan, and toast until they become fragrant and the mustard seeds sizzle, a minute or two. Scrape the cumin and mustard seeds into the food processor with the onion, along with the 1/2 cup of toasted coconut flakes, garlic, chiles, cilantro, lime juice, and ginger. Puree until it forms a rough paste. Season with salt and pepper.
Make two diagonal slashes on both sides of the fish. Season the cavity and outside of the fish with salt.
Stuff some of the paste into the cavity, inside the slits, and on both sides of the fish. Place the fish on a lightly oiled piece of parchment on a baking sheet. Drizzle a little extra olive oil over the fish.
Roast in the oven until the fish is cooked through (the flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork), about 20 minutes.
Garnish with toasted coconut and fresh cilantro leaves. Serve with the curry leaf, mustard seed, and yogurt chutney — and a few lime wedges.
Serving suggestions: Serve over couscous with roasted tomatoes.