I can’t remember an Easter where we have ever really stuck to the traditional dinner of ham, and this one was no exception. Yesterday, when I was at a local fruit stand, I saw that they had champagne mangos on special. Delighted, I selected two medium-ripe mangos and continued shopping. My first thought was to try to recreate a delicious mango chutney in a ginger and lemon gastrique that had been served over a bed of spring greens with seared tuna. Another thing that I had purchased was some catfish, now this I knew would be part of Easter dinner. In the end, an Indian theme was settled upon.
For the main dish, I decided to make tandoori catfish that would be grilled on the barbecue. I would serve that with tandoori zucchini and bell pepper kebabs, coconut jasmine rice, and the mango chutney in ginger and lemon gastrique.
For those of you not familiar with tandoori, it is a fantastic paste made out of yoghurt, onions, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and fennel. Most commonly it is used to marinate chicken, but I’ve found that it works equally well with fish.
In terms of planning I made each component in this order.
1. Make the tandoori and begin to marinade the fish
2. Make the mango chutney and chill
3. An hour before dinner, start the barbecue
4. Start rice
5. Put together kebabs
6. Grill kebabs (I decided to serve them at room temperature to simplify it)
7. Grill fish
8. Finish chutney
Tandoori marinade adapted from Martha Stewart
1.5 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
0.5 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
4 large red garlic cloves, peeled
2.5 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1.5 tablespoons ghee or oil
0.5 teaspoon turmeric, ground
0.5 cup plain yoghurt
4 filets of whitefish (I used catfish)
lemon wedges and cucumber spears, to serve
First, make the strained yoghurt. Do this by lining a sieve with a thin tea towel and pouring in the yoghurt. Let the yogurt drip for at least 20 minutes or more, you basically want the yoghurt to have a thick, sour cream-like consistency.
In a small, dry skillet toast the cumin seeds, coriander, and fennel seeds until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Grind the seeds into a fine powder using either a mortar and pestle (which I used) or a spice grinder.
In a food processor, puree the onion, garlic, and ginger into a paste. In a medium skillet, heat the ghee over medium heat and add the onion mixture. Satue until the onion is well cooked, about 7 minutes. Add the ground spices and turmeric and allow to cool. Mix in the yoghurt and salt to taste.
Pat dry the fish and rub it liberally with about a third of the tandoori paste. Lay the filets in a glass dish, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to marinate for 2-4 hours. Save the remaining tandoori in a bowl in the fridge for the vegetable kebabs.
When your fish is ready to be cooked, get ready a charcoal barbecue. If your white fish is delicate–such as catfish or tilapia–then you will want to make a tinfoil tray for them to cook on, but if your whitefish is hardier–such as halibut or snapper–then you should be able to grill it directly on the barbecue. Be sure to oil the fish or tray well to prevent sticking. For the catfish, I cooked about 4-6 minutes per side.
Tandoori Zucchini and Bell Pepper Kebabs
leftover tandoori paste (recipe above)
3 medium zucchini, washed and ends trimmed
1 yellow bell pepper (red or orange would also work)
Soak 6 bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to ensure they don’t catch on fire. Slice the zucchini into medallions that are about 1-1.5 inches thick. Remove the stem of your bell pepper and discard the core and seeds. Cut the bell pepper into sixths lengthwise and cut each sixth into thirds. Alternate the zucchini and bell pepper on the skewers and lay out on a plate. Slather the kebabs with the remaining tandoori paste and sprinkle with garam masala to taste. My garam masala was particularly strong and fresh, so I went with a light hand.
On a hot and oiled barbecue, place the kebabs on indirect heat. Cover and cook for about 10-12 minutes, flip and cook roughly 6 minutes more.
Coconut Jasmine Rice
I use Chao Thai coconut cream powder, which is available at Asian grocers. If you cannot find it, you can use one cup of coconut milk and two cups of water.
1.5 cups jasmine rice
3 cups water
0.75 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons coconut cream powder
red pepper flakes, to taste
Measure your rice in a sieve, rinse, and set aside. In a medium sauce pan, bring water to a boil and add salt, coconut cream powder, red pepper flakes and stir. Pour in rice, stir and cover. Bring back to a boil and turn down the heat to low (so it will just simmer) and cook covered for 30 minutes. Once done, fluff with a fork and serve.
Mango Chutney in a Ginger Lemon Gastrique
If you cannot find champagne mangoes, regular mangoes would work just fine.
2 medium-ripe champagne mangoes
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
zest of one small lemon
juice of one small lemon
0.5 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
0.5 cup apple cider vinegar
small handful of Italian flat leaf parsley
Begin by cutting your mangoes into half-inch cubes. Place in your serving dish and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar (the mixture should resemble wet sand) and bring to a boil. Once the mixture has begun to boil, do not stir and let the sugar begin to caramelize. The deeper the color, the darker the flavor will be. I went for a color similar to grade A maple syrup. At this point, step back and dump in your vinegar all at once. Stir and bring back to a boil, allowing the sugar to re-dissolve. Add your lemon juice and ginger and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes and then remove from heat. Dump in lemon zest and mango, stir to combine and pour back into serving dish. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Before you serve the chutney, finely chop the parsley and mix in.