An ode to India


As the Hindu festival of lights, known as Diwali, is celebrated this month around Australia by the Indian diaspora, CW food writer Fiona Williams shares two delicious Indian subcontinental-inspired recipes.

Fish in coconut milk

Extracted from Tasting India by Christine Manfield, published by Simon & Schuster Australia RRP $49.99.

Photography by Anson Smart.

Serves: 4

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
  • 250g fish fillet, cut into 4 even slices
  • 10 blanched cashews
  • Vegetable oil, for cooking
  • 10 sultanas
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 small cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 4 small green chillies, finely sliced
  • 1 Tbsp curry leaves
  • 1 cup (250ml) coconut milk
  • 1 tomato, cut into 4 slices
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) coconut cream

Mix the salt and pepper and rub it onto the fish slices. Set aside.

Fry the cashews in a little hot vegetable oil over a medium heat until golden, then drain on paper towel. Fry the sultanas in a little more oil until plump, and then drain on paper towel. Set the cashews and sultanas aside.

Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli for 2 minutes. Add the curry leaves and fry until crisp. Push the onion mixture to the side of the pan. Put the seasoned fish in the centre of the pan and fry for a minute. Turn the fish over, then spoon the onion mixture over the fish to coat. Season with a little extra salt. Pour the coconut milk into the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2−3 minutes.

Place a tomato slice over each fish slice. Pour in the coconut cream and warm through, taking care that it doesn’t boil. Turn off the heat and garnish with the cashews and sultanas. Serve with steamed rice.


Image and recipe fromLands of the Curry Leaf by Peter Kuruvita, Murdoch Books, RRP $49.99. Photography by Alan Benson.

Serves: 6

Prep: 10 mins + 30 mins chilling

Cook: 10 mins

  • 250g (2 3/4 cups) desiccated coconut
  • 150g (1 cup) pistachios
  • 250g cottage cheese
  • 250g (2 1/4 cups) milk powder
  • 240g (3/4 cup) condensed milk
  • 3 drops of pandan extract

In a heavy-based frying pan, over medium heat, roast half the coconut for about 3–5 minutes, until light golden brown, stirring regularly so it doesn’t burn. Remove to a plate and leave to cool.

In the same pan, roast the pistachios until lightly browned, then tip them onto a chopping board. Leave to cool, then roughly chop and set aside.

Place the cottage cheese, milk powder, condensed milk and pandan extract in a blender and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the roasted coconut and mix again until incorporated.

Transfer the mixture to a container and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Spread the remaining desiccated coconut on a tray. With wet hands, shape the chilled cheese mixture into golf ball-sized balls and roll them in the coconut.

Slightly flatten them out and push a small dent into the top. Fill each dent with chopped roasted pistachios. If possible, leave to set overnight in an airtight container at cool room temperature before serving.

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