This delightful recipe for Tamarind Tilapia is my mother’s creation. My mom is always creating, experimenting, and exploring with flavors and ingredients. She concocted this delicious dish for Christmas. It was a hit. Everyone wanted the recipe. They kept asking, “What is the secret?!” The secret my friends, is tamarind.
Tamarind is delicious. It’s tart and somewhat fruity. What is it, you ask? Tamarind is the name of a tree, which produces fruit in the form of pods. Native to tropical Africa, the largest producer of tamarind today is India. You can read more about tamarind in this helpful article by the Huffington Post. I love buying tamarind pods and eating the sticky pulp inside, though you do have to dodge some rather large seeds.
You might not find tamarind pods at your local grocery store, but a speciality store will likely have them. If you buy tamarind pods, you’ll have to peel each pod, remove the seeds and large thread, and mix with a bit of water. You can store remaining tamarind in the fridge for quite some time. For cooking, it’s often easier to purchase tamarind paste. The pulp is already removed from the pods, and you are left with a tamarind paste that you can use for all your cooking needs. Tamicon Tamarind Paste 8oz is a good brand that I’ve used before in cooking.
*This recipe calls for tilapia, but you can use any white fish.
Servings: 6-8 people • Prep Time: 15 minutes • Cook Time: 40 minutes
— FISH —
3 pounds tilapia
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
— TOPPING (KHULTA) —
1 pound onions (about 6 small onions)
4 bell peppers
8 ounces mushrooms
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon dried lime
3 tablespoons tamarind paste
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Thinly slice the onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Drizzle about a tablespoon of oil in a large pan. Add the onions, and cook for a few minutes. Add the peppers and mushrooms. Cook the vegetables for about 15 minutes, or until tender. If you notice the vegetables drying out, or sticking to the pan, add more oil.
Add vinegar, dried lime, garlic, cumin, tamarind, and salt to the vegetables. Stir. Taste, and add more seasoning as needed. Take the vegetables off heat and set aside.
Place the tilapia in a large tray. Don’t stack the fish, to ensure even cooking. Sprinkle the tilapia with salt, pepper, cayenne and olive oil. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. (The fish does not need to cook completely, since it will cook more with the vegetables).
Remove the tilapia from the oven. Drain any excess liquid from the tray. Spoon the cooked vegetable mixture over the tilapia, covering all of the fish.
Bake the fish for another 10 minutes, uncovered. Serve with rice, bulgur, or your favorite grain.