* 8 whole pieces of Sardines/Maththi/Chaala, cut and cleaned
* 6-8 small red pearl onions/Kunjulli, peeled
* 5 green chillies
* 1 small piece of ginger (approx. 1” length), peeled and thinly sliced
* 1 large juicy tomato, thinly sliced
* 2 sprigs of curry leaves
* ½ tsp turmeric powder
* 2 ½ to 3 tsp red chilly powder ( adjust according to individual tolerance)
* ¾ to 1 cup water
* 2 tbsp coconut oil
* Salt to taste
* Crush the small red pearl onions/Kunjulli, ginger and green chillies, using a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle set, thinly slice each of these ingredients and spread it on a chopping board and crush with the round edge of the rolling pin or anything with which you can pound and get the same result.
* Heat oil, preferably in a ‘curry-chatti’, an earthenware from Kerala or a cooking pan; when the oil is medium hot, throw in half of the curry leaves, snipped off of its stem, and smear the entire ‘curry chatti’/pan with oil and curry leaves, so as to coat the cooking ware fully with the combined flavour and aroma of the oil and curry leaves; DO NOT skip this step. Next, add the crushed small onions, ginger and green chilies, and sauté until transparent; add the thinly sliced juicy tomatoes and cook in low flame. When the tomato slices are soft, add turmeric powder and red chilly powder and combine well; let it cook for 1-2 minutes or until the raw smell goes, in low flame itself. At this stage, spread the fish pieces on this bed of tomato and onion base and pour water, suggested in the recipe or just enough to cover the fish pieces; add salt and bring to a boil in medium heat. Once the fish almost done, do a taste test and adjust the salt and then in low flame, simmer the gravy, in low heat until the sauce begins to thicken a bit and oil coating starts to float on top. This process takes about 15 minutes during which time fish will be cooked fully; so you need to roughly calculate the time ahead for cooking the fish, to make sure that fish is not over cooked. Just 2 minutes before turning off the heat, tear of the rest of the curry leaves, take some oil in your palm and crush some curry leaves with oil and add it to the dish, which accentuates the aroma, flavour and ‘the look’ of the dish. Turn off the stove and let it cool.
* Serve with rice or chappathi.