This dish does not have any added fat, is full of flavours, and the aroma of spice mix and banana leaf is simply enticing. Serve this with a green leafy salad.
3 mackerels, filleted and pin bones removed
1¼ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
15 dried red chilli peppers
15 black peppercorns
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1-inch/2.5-cm piece of cinnamon stick
4 green cardamom pods
8 to 10 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon de-seeded tamarind chunk
Banana leaves to wrap the fillets
Lemon wedges to serve
1. Rub ½ teaspoon salt and the turmeric powder on both sides of the fillets and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the spice paste.
2. Dry roast the red chillies in a small pan, until fragrant. Remove to a plate.
3. Place the peppercorns, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods in the same pan and briefly dry-roast until fragrant. Remove to the plate.
4. Transfer the red chillies, roasted spices, garlic, sugar, tamarind and the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt to an electric blender. Blend to make a thick, smooth paste, adding a little water if required.
5. Work with 2 fillets at a time. Place a mackerel fillet on a plate, skin-side down and spread a layer of paste on it. Place the other fillet on top, skin-side up to make a sandwich. Repeat with the remaining fillets and spice paste.
6. Wrap each pair of fillet in a piece of banana leaf to make a parcel. Place the parcels in a steamer and cook for about 15 minutes or until done.
7. Remove from the steamer, open the parcels, and serve with lemon wedges.