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Every coastal region in India fries its fish a little differently. Depending on the dominant spices from that region, the marinade or masala takes on subtle variations.
In Kerala, pepper is plentiful. It's a wonderful spice that heats up a whole range of dishes including the simple fried fish. They don't dust the fish with it mildly either. Pepper is used in its fullness and is combined with a mix of spices that brings out its bite and mellows it, all at the same time.
Another wonderful and unusual herb normally found prettily floating on curries is the curry leaf. I'm always amazed by how such a simple herb can change character so drastically depending on the way it is used. This fried fish is delicious on its own as a starter or with a lightly tossed salad like beetroot foogath. Or with the always comforting rice and fish curry.
About the author: Denise Dsilva Sankhe is a writer & creative director by profession. But that's only when she isn't eating her way across India. She recreates this delicious cuisine in her Mumbai home, which she shares with her husband, who has long since given up his determination to have salads for dinner.