Autumn Menu: Sanjay Kumar – Mackerel Masala

Sanjay’s Mackerel masala

One that didn

Mackerel is the King of Cornish fish eating culture.

As easy to catch as a flickering thought (Even a plume of feathers or dead mussels shell can be used as a distraction) they often remind me of an under-grown Tuna on an odd day.

With the shiny skin, firm flesh and very little bone, and its abundance in Cornish waters to the end of September it makes mackerel an ideal ingredient for wholesome meals. The recipe here reminds me of my early cooking days in Goa, where masala fried (bangda) mackerels were a cheap and fast food to go with local tipple on sunny day outs. Spices listed below are chores of an experimental gourmand, and can easily be replaced by ready-made marinades available from grocers’ shelves. Being innovative is half the fun…

Serves 3 Hungry Cornish fishermen


1 cup coconut scraped
5 peppercorns
Cornish sea salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
5 Red onions sliced
5 cloves
1/2 inch cinnamon
6 big size mackerels scaled
8 red chillies whole
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 small size tamarind
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp turmeric powder

How to make mackerel masala:

Wash, gut and chop each mackerel into 4 pieces.

Apply sea salt, and then wash again after 5 minutes.

Put the mackerel in a pot along with 3 to 4 cups of water, a pinch of salt and one tsp of turmeric powder.

Stir fry for 10 minutes. Drain any excess fat.

Heat up oil in a wok and stir-fry garlic, peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon.

Stir-fry coriander seeds and red chillies in the same oil and drain.

In the remaining oil stir fry the onions till dark brown.

Grind all the fried ingredients (except the onions) with coconut and tamarind into a fine paste.

Mix in the ground masala and water to the browned onions and bring to a boil.

Mix in the mackerel pieces and salt and simmer (boil slowly at low temperature)
for 2-3 minutes.

Serve hot with some basmati rice, or a bowl of chips.

Sanjey Kumar is the head chef at Falmouth’s Greenbank Hotel. Visit his website here.

Explore posts in the same categories: Cornwall, Food

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