Sometimes food from the Indian Sub Continent make the vibrant appearance in bright orange or red color, along with some grilled onions & peppers, making them look extremely appetizing. It could be meat, fish or cheese; and when you bite into them they are delicately succulent wonders. These are the well known “Tandoori” or “Tikka” – meat, fish/shrimp or paneer (Indian Cheese) marinated in very flavorful spices & cooked slowly & gently in a Tandoor. Now what is a Tandoor?
“A tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven used in cooking and baking. The tandoor is used for cooking in Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Transcaucasus, the Balkans, the Middle East, Central Asia as well as India and Bangladesh. The heat for a tandoor was traditionally generated by a charcoal fire or wood fire, burning within the tandoor itself, thus exposing the food to both live-fire, radiant heat cooking, and hot-air, convection cooking.
Temperatures in a tandoor can approach 480°C (900°F), and it is common for tandoor ovens to remain lit for long periods of time to maintain the high cooking temperature. The tandoor design is something of a transitional form between a makeshift earth oven and the horizontal-plan masonry oven.
The tandoor is used for cooking certain types of Afghan, Pakistani and Indian foods such as tandoori chicken, chicken tikka and bread varieties like tandoori roti and naan. The word tandoori is the adjective meaning “pertaining to the tandoor” and is used to describe a dish cooked in a tandoor.” (Wiki)
Marinating the meat, fish or the cheese in slightly acidic base with a lot of spices & then slow cooking in an evenly distributed temperature, make them irresistibly aromatic & tender. I do not own a Tandoor (wish I did) & for some unknown reason I do not like to cook the fish in the oven. I just do it on the iron skillet over high heat; it takes only a couple of minutes to cook them on the stove-top.
Note: Indian Groceries carry Ready-made Tandoori Pastes in jars & Tandoori Powders. Use the ready made ones, if you do not have the time or enthusiasm to make your own.
- Fish fillet-4 pieces (I used Tilapia, any firm white fish will do)
- 1 Tablespoons of Oil
For the Tandoori Paste/Marinade:
- 1 Teaspoon Red chili/Cayenne powder (adjust to taste)
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon juice
- 1/2 Teaspoon Oil
- 3/4 Teaspoon Garlic paste
- 1 .5 Teaspoons Ginger paste
- 1/2 Teaspoon of Cumin Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Coriander Powder
- A pinch of Turmeric Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Kasuri Methi (Dried Fenugreek Leaves, available at the Indian Grocery)
- 1/4 Teaspoon of Nutmeg
- 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
- Orange Food color (Optional)
- 1 tablespoon besan/chickpea flour, very lightly toasted in a skillet (this helps to thicken the marinade and allows it to stick to the fillets while it cooks) – Optional
Wash the fish & pat dry with a paper towel.
Combine all the ingredients for the marinade + chickpea flour/besan if you are using.
Pour the mixture over the fish fillets & toss gently to evenly coat the fillets. Let the fillets sit with the marinade for about an hour.
Coat a large skillet with oil. (Use a skillet which can hold the fillet in a single layer without overlapping one layer). Heat the skillet to almost a smoking point.
Put the fillet on the pan, arranging them carefully so they are not overlapped. Cook for 3-4 minutes or till the fillets loosen at the bottom & are ready to flip over. (They will loosen by themselves when done, do not try to scrape, push & flip; they will break)
Flip over with a broad spatula & cook the other side of the fish in the same way as above.
Serve with rice, salad, mint & coriander chutney & some yogurt. (I added some carrots, orange zest & red pepper to the yogurt)
My kids eat the “Orange Spicy Fish” (In their words) a few times a week. They love it with some buttered rice & some side salad or steamed veggies, which makes it really easy for me to make a quick. healthy meal for them. I rarely cook fish in any other form.. tho’ I would really love to:-) The Spicy Orange Fish is going to Indrani’s Spotlight Fish.