Aiyla porichathundu, karimeen varathatundu..... goes a Malayalam film song proving the love Keralites have for seafood. I have always loved aiyla fry especially the way mom makes it. I have lovely memories of mom frying the fish at lunch time, with me at the table gorging on a hot piece of fish with a plate of rice, sambhar and thoran. Mom fries the Ayala fish to have a nice and crisp outer and soft flaky inside. Living in Mumbai during childhood meant we got a fresh supply of fish always. There were fish vendors who came to our door with fresh fish at about 9 or 10 in the morning and if we missed that then there was a fish market close by to stock from. But after moving to Delhi, we found that there are only a few markets that have good fish and INA market is one of them. The other day when I went to the market I found mackerels in the fish shop and immediately picked a couple. I was not sure of its freshness but the thought of having varatha ayala was already making my mouth water. Thankfully, the fish vendor cleans the fish and cuts it to the size of choice. All the aiyla then needed, was a quick rinse to clean and it was ready to be marinated. When I clean fish, I usually add turmeric powder to the water for the last rinse to take away some of the fishy smell.
We were so hungry that I didn't wait to take pics before dinner and there were only few pieces left after
For the marinade, I used the same spice mix that my mother does, with an additional dash of crushed garlic. I got the fish vendor to cut each bangda in 3 pieces and then made small cuts on each piece so the masala penetrates each piece nicely. The recipe:
Aiyla / Bangda - 4
Red Chilli pwd - 1 tbsp, heaped
Turmeric pwd - 1tsp
Black Pepper pwd - 1.5tsp
Garlic - 6 pods, crushed
Salt as per taste
Oil - 5 to 6 tbsp
Prepare the marinade by mixing the powders together, add a few drops of water to make a thick paste. Rub the marinade paste onto each piece of fish on all sides and into the cuts. Let it marinate for at least 2 hours.
Heat oil in a flat pan and add the fish pieces, as many as the pan can hold with space left between the pieces. Keep the heat on medium and after about 7 minutes flip the pieces onto the other side. In case the pieces are thick, stand the pieces on all sides to cook well. It takes me about 15 to 20 minutes to cook each batch of fish alternating between low and medium heat.
Cheera thoran, cabbage thoran, fried fish, rice with rasam