I was walking towards our bus stage with my friend one hot humid afternoon after running some errands. We were both quite tired and the heat was not making it any easier. With everything we set out to do complete, all was left to do was to get a meal. And when I am hungry, that is all that occupies my mind. I try as much as possible not to go into a supermarket when hungry, since I end up buying things I do not even like to eat or end up binging of sweet things that I normally wouldn’t have a stomach for. On this particular day however, only one thing was on my mind: fish. I love fish! And for me, that would be the perfect way to end my day and unwind. I quickly made my way to the nearest fish vendor and bought myself some tilapia then rushed home. My Kraving resulted in this very delicious, mind-numbingly good chili coconut tilapia masala. Perfect marriage of flavor; very unexpected, but so delicious!
Proceed with caution though, because my tilapia masala can very easily turn into a very real addiction.
PREP TIME: 15 MIN COOK TIME: 30 MIN SERVES: 1
1 250g tilapia, deep fried
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, minced
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 a tablespoon of turmeric
1/2 tablespoon of black pepper
1/2 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
1 cup of coconut cream
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
In a pan with your heated oil, add your finely chopped red onion, minced garlic, some salt and all the spices. We shall be adding the spices at this point so that they cook down really well and meld before proceeding to the next steps. If you add them at any other point, they will feel almost grainy and not meld as well.
After the onions have softened (not blackened!!!) and the garlic is fragrant, add your pureed tomatoes, your tomato paste and allow it to cook down for about 4 minutes. Add the coconut cream and mix it in. Turn down the heat to low and allow this to simmer down for another 5 minutes so that all the flavors come together.
I bought my coconut cream from Tuskys and I am beyond sure you can get it in any other large supermarket. I can never use ingredients that are beyond your reach. So whenever you are wondering where I got any ingredient, ask me. I am always just a tweet away :))
After the time has lapsed, scoop out three tablespoons of the sauce and set aside for use a bit later. Add your tilapia into the remainder of the sauce and squeeze your lemon juice over it. Lemon flavors and fish are a match made in heaven. It’s sourness awakens the flavors and ties everything together.
In Kenya, Tilapia is mostly bought after it has already been deep fried and consumed in most homes after it has been twice cooked: the last phase of cooking being in a rich sauce of choice. For me,today, mine is the coconut cream chilli sauce. There are many ways you can cook it though so do not shy away from playing around with your flavors.
Slather the sauce you scooped out a few minutes ago over the fish and cover with a lid and let this simmer down on low heat. This allows the flavors of the sauce to penetrate the flesh of the fish and also make it super moist. You can also use this same sauce with fries, or potato wedges or with your favorite pasta. If you decide to use my chili coconut sauce with pasta, just do not use lemon or if you do, use it in moderation.
After your fish is done, lock the door, switch off your phone and prepare to dig in uninterrupted!!! My chili coconut tilapia masala is so good, you will need to concentrate and soak in the glorious flavors note by note! Yes, selfishness is allowed!
Perfect with any starch of choice, however I especially enjoy my tilapia masala with some nice hot ugali and creamed managu. With the rainy Nairobi weather, nothing like delicious food to keep your body warm, your tummy full and your soul happy. Make sure my chilli coconut tilapia masala is it!!
Try this out and take pics as you cook and tag me on social media. I would love to see your master piece :)). After you try this out, you can try my tilapia peri peri and my rosemary garlic tilapia fish fingers. I am sure you will fall in love with all three recipes :))
Get your downloadable recipe here :))