Wednesday, March 27, 2013

baked indian tilapia

Happy Holi!  What a great festival.  I have really fond memories of Holi from college - the "Hill" in Ann Arbor would be alive early in the morning with celebrants dressed in white and covered in bright chalk dust to welcome Spring.  So, yes, I learned about Holi the "hard" way.  

Since then I've learned a lot more about Hinduism, and if you read yesterday's Salted Caramel Matzo Bark post, you know I have good things to say about all faiths.  Hinduism is tricky for a Westerner since its so multilayered, diverse, and non-scriptural.  So, I've found that the best (or maybe the worst) way to learn about Hinduism is to actually talk to Hindus.  Since there's no "textbook" way to practice, every Hindu and her/his family has their own variations, so every conversation reveals simultaneously a bit more and a bit less about Hinduism.  Next time you find yourself amongst many Hindus ask them whether Hinduism is monotheistic or polytheistic - they won't agree!  That's awesome.  But a faith that is flexible enough to accept all paths to Brahma (even non-Hindu ones) is pretty unique in this world, and we need a little more of that. 
Balinese Hinduism, July 2011

Last night's dinner, and today's post, is perhaps the gori version of an Indian meal (adjusted for Passover, of course).  I have no idea whether tilapia is consumed in any corner of the vastly diverse Indian sub-continent, but it was delicious, light, and spicy.  Besides, there are about as many Indias as there are Indians - cooking and celebrating together, but in their own way today - so I think I can get by with whatever.

If you aren't a fish-eater, I highly recommend trying the "naked samosa" as your next side dish.  While that buttery crust of a deep fried samosa will bring a tear to your eye, just making the filling  was a really satisfying (and lighter) way to nail the samosa taste.  Like most kitchens, I didn't have every single spice a traditional recipe called for (like cumin seeds and black mustard seeds), but as long as you have turmeric, coriander, cumin, and garam masala it will work very well.  I did miss the little crunch and pop of those seeds, though. 

So, happy Holi, everyone!  Perhaps the weather will finally turn...
Ingredients for Tilapia adapted from Feeding my Folks (serves two):
  • 2 tilapia filets
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Ingredients for Naked Samosa adapted from Ambika's Kitchen (makes 4 servings):
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 serrano chili, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne (depending on your desired level of spicyness)
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp. garam masala
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
Ingredients for Cilantro Chutney:
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Bring one large and one small pot of water to a boil on the stovetop.

While you wait for everything to heat up, chop your vegetables and mix together all the spices for the tilapia.  Evenly coat the tilapia in the spice mixture by shaking them together in a plastic bag.
When your water is boiling, add the potatoes/carrots to the large pot and peas to the small pot.  The peas will cook quickly, so drain and rinse them under cold water just a few minutes later.  Wait for the potatoes and carrots to fully soften.

Place the tilapia on a parchment-lined baking pan and put in the oven for about 20 minutes.
When the potatoes and carrots are ready, remove from water and set aside.  Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat with 1 tbsp. olive oil.  Add the serrano, garlic, and ginger and cook for one minute.  Mix in the coriander, cayenne, and turmeric for another minute.  Then, add the potatoes, carrots, peas and lemon juice.  Stir and cover on lower heat for four minutes.
Meanwhile, make the chutney by placing all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulsing until smooth.

Add the garam masala to the samosa filling and salt to taste.  By now your tilapia should be ready...enjoy!


  1. This sounds utterly delightful! The concept of a "naked samosa is so creative! LOVE samosas and have all the ingredients to make this dinner. I look forward to trying it out!

    1. yes, "naked samosa" was my "ah ha!" moment of the night...and maybe even the week or month. hope you enjoy!

  2. Very nice post! I will certainly try this soon!

  3. Yum! I have been craving Indian like crazy!