I gave Tandy three ingredients (four actually, but the black salt smells like dog poop and tastes like a fishpond, so we decided to ignore it) when she visited me back in August, and challenged her to a cook off using them. We’ve already done the dried lime leaves; Tandy’s here and mine here. Next on our list is ajmo; which Wikipedia explains as Trachyspermum ammi, commonly known as ajowan, bishop’s weed, ajwain, ajowan caraway, carom seeds, or thymol seeds, is a plant of India and the Near East whose seeds are used as a spice.
Raw ajwain smells almost exactly like thyme because it also contains thymol, but is more aromatic and less subtle in taste, as well as slightly bitter and pungent. Even a small amount of raw ajwain will completely dominate the flavor of a dish.

In Indian cuisine, ajwain is almost never used raw, but either dry-roasted or fried in ghee or oil. This develops a much more subtle and complex aroma, somewhat similar to caraway but “brighter”.
I decided to make individual curried fish pies for my take on the challenge. It was a lovely, sunny day and these were perfect for taking out into the garden for a picnic lunch on the lawn.

Serves 4 as a main course:

1kg firm white fish
Marinade for at least an hour in the fridge in a mixture of:
1 Tablespoon garam masala
1 Tablespoon mild curry powder
1 teaspoon ajmo
½ Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Teaspoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
Rind and juice of 2 lemons
2 Tablespoons grated ginger
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
2 Cloves garlic, chopped
1 Large onion, diced
2 Medium green chillies, chopped
Salt to taste.

12 sheets of phyllo pastry, cut to a size that will fall over the rims of 4 ramekins.
Lay each ramekin with 3 of the pastry layers one by one, so that the edges fall asymmetrically over the rims and use your fist to gently push down into the ramekins.
Spoon the fish curry mixture into the pastry, coat the edges with whipped egg. Wrap the ends over and twist into a pucker to seal.
Coat with egg mixture and bake at 180 until golden and firm, about 25 minutes.

Serve with chutney, steamed vegetables or a leafy green salad and a crisp, dry white wine; Sauvignon Blanc is perfect.


58 Comments Add yours

  1. filkosll says:

    looks AMAZING. i want to try it!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Go for it, what’s stopping you? 🙂

  2. dearrosie says:

    When we have a picnic we eat chips and cheese and crackers, this looks like a picnic from British India. You have such class Cindy! I look forward to trying the recipe – thanks for including it!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks Rosie *blush*

  3. souldipper says:

    Rosie said it for me, Cin. Class. You give such dignity to any meal you make – even a picnic.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Oh my goodness, Amy, I’ll have a big head soon 😉

  4. Sparkle says:

    Looks yummy! The only curried fish I have ever had is a canned one and it is nice with brown bread. Rose is right, you have class and it is rubbing off nicely on us 😉

    1. theonlycin says:

      Aaaw shucks, thanks Sparky 😉

  5. Tandy says:

    oh my, we both did fish again! I love your post – and the new theme 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Still getting used to the theme, need you to help me to load a banner image 🙂

  6. I am with dearrosie: YOU HAVE CLASS!!!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Ai, Mevrou, hoe laat jy my nou bloos!

  7. earlybird says:

    It’s funny how disturbing it is to visit a blog and find it’s changed its ‘look’! I did a double take, thinking I’d come to the wrong place.

    I use ajwain quite often in Indian dishes.

    These pies look delicious. Did you dry fry the ajmo first for this recipe?

    1. theonlycin says:

      No earlybird, I bought toasted ajmo. Should I still fry it?

  8. nursemyra says:

    Those pies look absolutely delicious

    1. theonlycin says:

      They really were fabulous Myra 🙂

  9. Tilly Bud says:

    I love the new look! Much easier to find the different posts.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Ta muchly, Tilly 🙂

  10. It looks so pretty!!! I am going to make this!!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Hope you blog it, Pinky 🙂

  11. Fabulous recipe and I love the individual portions.
    Have a happy day.
    🙂 Mandy

    1. Forgot to say – the new look is great! 🙂 xo

      1. theonlycin says:

        Thanks Mandy 🙂

  12. suzicate says:

    You guys are amazing…the things you come up with starting with a few ingredients. Makes me think of poetry challenges when given a list of words…the various results are incredible.

    1. theonlycin says:

      It all boils down to alchemy, doesn’t it SuziCate, be it words or ingredients?

  13. slpmartin says:

    Another one for me to add to my collection of meals for future dinner guests…thanks!

    1. theonlycin says:

      You are welcome, Charlie 🙂

  14. Ruth says:

    I’ll have to look for ajmo. And I’ve never curried fish, but why not? Yours looks (and sounds) delicious.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Curried fish is a very big deal in traditional South African cuisine, a huge part of our cultural heritage 🙂

  15. SidevieW says:

    curried fish always reminds me of my mum, she loved it, I hate it

    1. theonlycin says:

      I must remember that …

  16. sonsothunder says:

    Love the new template…Yeah, Indian cuisine is one area not yet ventured into much around my kitchen, or at work even. I have eaten some wonderful dishes now and then in restaurants. Maybe I’ll start with the fish. Bless you,
    Oh, could ya please pass the “Black Salt”?

    1. theonlycin says:

      Bwahahaha Paul 😉

  17. Pseu says:

    Are you comfortable in your new skin? I like it

    1. theonlycin says:

      I will admit that my heart fluttered a bit before I pressed ‘apply’ but I am getting used to it 🙂

  18. bluebee says:

    Delicious recipe – will give it a go for my semi-veg friends. What is the dog poop fishpond usually used for?

    1. theonlycin says:

      Not really sure, but the high-falutin foodies are reaving about it ;(

  19. Tammy says:

    That is lovely. I often forget about phyllo dough and it’s such fun.

    1. theonlycin says:

      And it never fails to look impressive, does it?

  20. It’s dinner time, and now my tummy is rubbling. The choice of pastry is inspired: I must try this to impress Phil sometime…

    1. theonlycin says:

      You’ll knock his socks off 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Bwahahaha, I like rubbling better 😉

  21. ceciliag says:

    You guys are too good! c

    1. theonlycin says:

      Aw … thanks Cecilia 🙂

  22. Looks pretty! The food and the new blog 🙂 I really like the comment bit.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Is the comment functionality different, Lee, I can’t see?

      1. No, the functionality isn’t different perse, but the comments are in grey call out boxes against the white background, with the arrow bit pointing to the pic of the person who wrote something. And visitors are to the left and your replies are to the right. It makes it a lot easier than scanning through a long ‘list’ searching for anything particular. It separates it better, without disconnecting it. (It almost reads a bit more like a dialogue.)

  23. johnell74 says:

    Hi Cindy.
    I am a curryphile, so I found my juices working at the description of that dish.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Ta John, us Colonialists and our love of curry, eh? Can’t get enough of it myself 🙂

  24. The Hook says:

    Pretty awesome creation, young woman! I wish I ate better…

    1. theonlycin says:

      Surely the hotel offers healthy options?

  25. klrs09 says:

    This sounds so good — I am going to try it.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Lemme know how it goes, Kathy!

  26. bandsmoke says:

    Wonderful – your culinary prowess knows no bounds, you and Tandy should do a book together 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      We’re actually working on one for kiddy suppers 🙂

  27. Naomi says:

    OMG, never heard of it, thx for the education, Cindy…the steamed asparagus is doing it for me 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Asparagus is a miracle food, Naomi, you can’t overdose on it 🙂

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