Monday, January 17, 2011

Unakka-meen Chathachathu – Crushed Dried Fish spiced up with pearl onions & dry red chilly

……..Amma has her version of Unakkameen chathachathu, which is so good and lasts very long! “ wrote Ria on my last post.

Her words hit me like a twister. My hankering was strong that I secretly wished I had not trashed that last packet of dried fish my parents got me when they visited us year before last.

Yet, I rummaged around the refrigerator, hoping that my memory was wrong and I would find that last packet, tucked away in some corner and luck was on my part that day !!!!

Called up home on Saturday morning and got the recipe from my mother and she fuelled my craving with her “ooh..aahs” about this dish. Decided to make it for lunch, ignoring the fear of complaint from the neighbours for that strange but horrible smell, a warning letter from the Leasing Office for spoiling the aura of the community, living in an house where everything from your couch to remote control to your own hair stink like dried fish and ofcourse, overlooking my man’s inherent disdain for such dried fish concoctions.

I made it for lunch.

I served it with some hot, plump , creamy and starchy bowl of goodness Kanji, rice gruel.

WE devoured every bit.

WE ate it for dinner too.

The bowl was polished off at the end.

And …

I heard my man saying as he chew on each bite, “ …Adipoli…..…awesome!! WOW!! “

On learning that it was the last packet left in the refrigerator,, he made a light joke that “…..we should salt some fish and oven -dry it “. Hmmmmmmmmmm………!!!

Well, he had a philosophical addendum too , for his newly found liking for this dish, “….mm.....I think, with age, I am developing a liking for certain dishes that were not appetizing while growing up…

Honestly, I was not certain whether it was worth responding to such talks when I was sitting in our living room stinking like a dry fish store house, with aroma candles lit in all corners of the house and with balcony doors wide open in a freezing weather outside!!!! When my nose was being tortured with all that strong smell, it would have been atleast pleasing to my ears had he said something like ,”……..loved it this time …may be ‘coz I liked how you made it “ . I know, cheesy it would have been, yet…..…..:P

Well, my stomach was full, satisfied and I was one happy soul yesterday! :)

Here’s how I made it:

Ingredients: (Approx)
  • 1 cup dried fish/ Unakka-meen chunks (Check under ”Directions” for notes on soaking & cleaning instructions)
  • ½ cup small red pearl onions, sliced
  • 6-8 dry red chilly
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • Coconut oil for shallow frying the fish
  • Notes: Soak dried fish ( I used about 150gm “bral” ) in water , along with some small newspaper pieces , to soften the fish for about 30 mts ( newspaper helps to absorb the excess salt content on the dried fish). Remove newspaper, drain water and remove the scales from the fish , if any; cut the tail and all the unwanted parts of fish and cut them into small chunks.
  • Crush and shred the dried fish chunks in a mixer or ideally using a mortar and pestle and keep it aside.
  • Next, crush the onions and dried red chillies together and make a nice coarse mixture.
  • In a shallow pan, heat some coconut oil and fry the dried fish until almost fried (Do not fry them too crispy at this stage) and keep it aside. In the same pan, to the same oil ( add more oil if required), tear off the curry leaves and throw them into the pan, followed by the onion and red chilly mixture and cook till a nice aroma comes, for about 1-2 minutes. At this point, add the fried fish and combine everything together and cook for another 2-3 minutes till everything is nicely combined.
  • “Ultimate” when served with Kanji/rice gruel .
Dear Ria, thank you for that appetizing comment, we had two satisfying meals ‘coz of you :)


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  1. vayichu theernapolekum vaayil oru kappal odikamayirunu

  2. Looks good. Best to have with kanji and manga pickle. Yummy

  3. Dear Mishmash,
    വളരെ ലളിതമായ ഒരു വിഭവം, ലളിതമായി തന്നെ പറഞ്ഞു തന്ന Mishmashനു മനസ്സ് നിറഞ്ഞ (വയറ് നിറഞ്ഞ) നന്ദി. ഇത് വായിച്ചിട്ട് തന്നെ അടിപൊളി. അപ്പോള്‍ പിന്നെ ഇത് കഴിച്ചിട്ട് അടിപൊളി എന്ന് ആ മനുഷ്യന്‍ പറഞ്ഞതില്‍ ഒട്ടും അതിശയം ഇല്ല. വെറുതെ അഭിനന്ദിച്ചാല്‍ മാത്രം പോരാ, അര്‍ഹിക്കുന്ന സമ്മാനവും കൂടി കൊടുക്കണം എന്ന് അദെഹതിനെ ഓര്‍മിപ്പിക്കുകയാണ്. ജോലിയൊക്കെ ചെയ്ത് തളര്‍ന്ന്, നന്നായിട്ട് വിശക്കുമ്പോള്‍ , രുചികരമായ ഒരല്‍പ്പം ആഹാരം ആസ്വധിച്ചു കഴിക്കാന്‍ കഴിയുമെങ്കില്‍, അതിലും വലിയ ഭാഗ്യം നല്ല ആരോഗ്യം മാത്രമാണ്. അതു അറിയുന്ന മനുഷ്യര്‍ ഭാഗ്യവാന്മാര്‍..

  4. soooo delicious!! I think I will have to adapt this recipe to our taste very soon. By that I mean I may not be able to find the right fish, but who cares?!!!

  5. S,as soon as I saw the e-mail update's headline, I knew I triggered this craving in you! :D It looks almost the same as Amma makes it,I guess she 'olathifies' it a bit more, in velichenna :D

    I can so relate to you when tell us about your fish frying experience! I light candles,turn on the vent fan on full blast and leave the balcony door wide open! It once scared Jobin thinking I might freeze to death inside the house if I continue leaving the balcony door open, that wide! :) It's all for my fish-ey love :)

    Thanks for the mention :)

  6. oh, very delicious dish.My mom used to make this just for my father, who loves this dish very much. Like you as a kid I didnt like the strong flavour ..:)

  7. Oh my.Kanji and this unakkameen.I know what i am making for dinner.

  8. Oh my.Kanji and this unakkameen.I know what i am making for dinner.

  9. Looks so delicious..simple yet mouthwatering recipe.

  10. Mishmash...
    Thanks kto :)

    ithu oru rakshayum illa...ente fav annu...vayil vellam ozhukkunnu...ivide vannappo njan athyam anweshichathu dry fish kittumo enna...
    ithinu njangal podichathu enna parayunne...
    we make chathachathu in a bit different way...
    We dont fry fish , athyam mortar and pestleil chathakkum ennittu oilil bakkiyellam koode nannayi saute cheythu fry cheyyum ;)
    engane ayalum sambhavam ugran

  11. nice presentation ... but i didn't like that damp white cloth underneath...

  12. kanji and this words......hi iam new in this blogging.pls visit my blog

  13. hi..
    luks real mom makes it slightly different. fish is first fried as such n then crushed along with shallots,curry leave n green chillies...that too tasts yummy...

  14. Delicious recipes .Good to see you blogging:))

  15. I personally do not like unakkameen but I remember having veggies cooked the same way! Now I'm craving for the smell of coconut oil, curry leaves, red chillies and onions to invade my house!

  16. Ooh kodiyavunnu...! This looks super yummy. The photos are inviting. Gotta try this soon, ah!

  17. If you ever wish to trash unakkameen, scrub the plan, and send it to me. Not really, make this and please send it to me !!!! You should write a book titled "The Essense of Kerala Cuisine "

  18. Unakkameen, I don't dare making it here in our condo... I don't think I can ever get rid of the smell even if I kept all the windows open and lighted 1000 candles :)... So for now I am just going to look at this picture and drool all over the keyboard.

  19. it feels so good to read your blog after ages...i ll mail you really sorry for my lethargy!

  20. I love all the recipes you post, more than that I love your style of writing.

  21. Hi Mishmash,

    Where r u mishmash? why no recipes for such a long time?? pls come back with a wonderful dish.

  22. I loved how simple and easy this recipe was to make - I made it with pollock since that was the only dried fish I could get my hands on :)

  23. I made this with dried pollock since it was the only dried fish I could get my hands on here :) this was the first recipe for which I got home from work and immediately set about cooking!!

  24. Oh my God!!! i never thought of such a good recipe from Kerala... n that too with dried fish.... my mought is watering... i have gone back to kerala in my thoughts.. nammude kanjiyum ,n thottukootals... wow!!!!!!Thanks for sharing....
    From Preetha fo , A Bowl of Curry


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