Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Goan Fish Curry Paired with 2009 Delaplane Cellars LoCo Virginia Viognier and 2010 Swedenburg Estate Vineyard Virginia Riesling.

I have a long love affair with Indian food.  The amazing aromas, complex flavors, enticing textures, and beautiful colors make me all tingly inside - not unlike my first kiss with Joyce Klunder just 39 years ago.  And even better, Indian food is not difficult to prepare – except for the breads.

To date, I have conquered dhal pouri (see Curried Chicken and Potato Roti Paired with Chenin Blanc) and barra (see Trinidad Doubles, Cucumber Chutney, Trinidad Pepper Sauce Paired with 2010 Cupcake Vineyards Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc) but have not yet perfected naan.  My attempt at naan for this pairing was an admirable effort, but I am not yet satisfied.  I am fairly confident in the recipe, but have not perfected the baking part.

When I posted to Facebook about my pending attempt at this meal, good friend John Downey, mentioned that his lovely wife Ji had nailed the preparation by grilling the naan.  Once I get the grilling instructions from Ji, I will have a great excuse to prepare another Indian feast, and report back with my results. 

My next attempt at naan may be another shot at Goan fish curry.  Although our meal was excellent, and our dinner party was all smiles, the dish did not quite meet the memory of my favored experience of this dish.  A couple years back, I spent about a period working as a consultant in Abu Dhabi.  During my time there, we frequented a restaurant that in my opinion prepared the best Goan Curry…period.  Now, I am chasing.

In comparison, the recipe you will find here featured more spice and less sweetness than my memory of the wonderful Abu Dhabi Goan fish curry.  My next attempt will back off just slightly on the heat and substitute coconut milk for the water in the gravy.

As for the wine pairing, I decided to experiment with two distinct approaches to balancing the moderate heat of the curry.  I chose a Virginia Riesling intending to balance the piquance with sweetness, and a Virginia Viognier as a fruit forward approach to provide balance.  We were rewarded with two excellent pairings, but the dinner crowd nodded in agreement that the Riesling made the better pairing.

Our first wine was a 2009 Delaplane Cellars LoCo Virginia Viognier featuring aromas and flavors of apricot, peach and honeysuckle with a full rich mouth feel one would expect from a full bodied Chardonnay.  My pairing instincts were good – the fruit of the Viognier did a splendid job of balancing the heat of the curry.  The full body also did a fine job of standing up to the richness of the dish.  The only downfall of this pairing was the attenuation of the fruit flavors which faded quickly when faced with the boldness of the curry.  I would guess this wine will do much better with respect to allowing the fruit flavors to linger with the recipe modifications I mentioned earlier.

The second wine on our pairing list was the 2010 Swedenburg Estate Vineyard Virginia Riesling.  The principal characteristics of this wine that made for a successful pairing include prominent green apple flavors accompanied by a pleasant floral aroma, mild sweetness and well balanced acidity.  Unlike the Viognier, the sweetness and strong acidity led to a longer finish that lingered through each bite of the curry.  Without the sudden vanishing of flavor, we reached our unanimous agreement that the Riesling was the preferred pairing.

As a side note, in absence of the pairing, I preferred the Viognier.  The 2009 Delaplane Cellars LoCo Virginia Viognier is a wonderfully complex and rich wine featuring beautiful fruit flavors and well balanced acidity.  For my drier taste preference, the 2010 Swedenburg Estate Vineyard Virginia Riesling is too sweet – but exactly the reason it worked so well with the Goan fish curry.


Goan Fish Curry


  • 2 pounds fish cleaned and cut into 1 inch cubes.  Any firm white fish or tuna will work well.  I used Basa – an inexpensive Asian catfish.
  • Pulp from two tamarind pods
  • 2 medium onions diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes diced
  • 8 dried red chilies with stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh finely grated ginger
  • 1 ½ cups grated coconut
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red chili powder
  • 2 jalapeno peppers diced
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt to taste


  1. Put the onion, tomato, coconut, ginger, garlic, jalapenos, dry red chillies, all the spices, tamarind pulp, and water into your food blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Heat a large skillet on a medium heat, add ghee.
  3. Add the blended mixture and heat for about 5 minutes.
  4. Adjust seasoning (salt), reduce heat and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  5. Add the fish and continue to simmer uncovered for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve over basmati rice.



  • 1 ½ teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons ghee
  • 3 tablespoons yoghurt


  1. Add the dry yeast and sugar to the warm water and stir till the yeast is dissolved. Set aside until the mixture begins to froth.
  2. Add flour, salt, yeast mixture, 3 tablespoons of ghee and all the yogurt to a mixing bowl and knead with a dough hook (or you can do it manually).
  3. Cover and allow to rest for about 90 minutes or until the dough doubles in volume.
  4. Punch the dough down and knead again for 10 minutes.
  5. Equally divide the dough and form 8 round balls.
  6. Lightly flour a rolling surface  and roll out to 7 inch circles.
  7. Preheat your oven 400 F.
  8. Grease a sheet pan with the remaining ghee and cook the naan (three at a time) until the Naan begins to puff out and get lightly brown. Flip the Naan and repeat.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


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