Mackerel Sky, Sunshine Chutney


The issue with Mackerel is that it seems to go on and off the list of fish you can eat guiltlessly to the extent where I have become baffled. I think I’m right in saying it’s ok to eat it at the moment but we shouldn’t be eating it all the time.

As a source of protein Mackerel is full of omega 3, so great health wise, and it’s so tasty and economical. What I really like about it though, is that it can take spice…

I felt like making something this afternoon, it’s been intermittently grey and rainy, once I was bitten but the bug it just wouldn’t go away. I consulted Rocket, and we decided we would do some Mackerel fillets in a spice rub, we would pan fry them – too wet to BBQ!

Potatoes and Mackerel are a good match so we also made a Potato curry, the mild kind with coconut and just a hint of warmth.

I wanted a chutney to serve with the fish, I had thought of Mango chutney, but it didn’t seem to have the acidity I was thinking of, so I picked up some rhubarb and set about a spicy rhubarb chutney which I’ve faithfully reproduced below. I made it reasonably fiery but I think that’s something that can be adjusted, and truthfully, as I’ve never made it before, (this version, not chutney’s in general) and didn’t follow a recipe, I just tasted it until it I was happy with it.


We thought the chutney worked really well with the mackerel that Rocket had cooked to perfection.

For the chutney

1 large pink onion roughly chopped (if you don’t have pink onions use an ordinary one).

4 stalks of rhubarb, peeled with a peeler then chopped across the stalk into pieces about 3 to 4mm thick.

4cm fresh root ginger, peeled, and sliced into very fine match sticks

1 tablespoon of ground nut or sunflower oil

Zest of 1/4 lemon, very finely sliced into thin strips

1 tsp dried chilli flakes (reduce this if you prefer a slightly milder heat)

2 kashmiri (whole long) dried chilli’s pierced.

2 tsp nigella seeds

3/4 tsp, turmeric

2 red birdseye chilli’s finely chopped – optional

1/2 tsp salt

3 tablespoons of soft brown sugar

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

The following spices toasted and then ground to a fine powder:

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

Gently fry the onions in the oil, in saucepan.

Soften them until they are translucent, then add 3/4 of the rhubarb and the coat in the oil.

Next add the dried spices, toss all the ingredients in them and follow with the turmeric, Nigella seeds, dried kashmiri and fresh chilli’s.

Then add the sugar, vinegar and salt.

Allow the mixture to bubble away until it reduced and thickens, becoming a bit like a very loose jam – this will probably take about 30 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and ginger and allow to cook on for about 5 minutes before adding the remaining sliced rhubarb.

Cook the rhubarb for a further 3/4 minutes. Then taste and adjust your seasoning and heat. The mixture should be nicely glossy and jammy in consistency. It should taste tangy and sweet, with some heat and a depth of spice.

Remember to fish out the whole chilli’s before you put the chutney into a jar.

Put the chutney into a sterile jar with the lid off and allow to cool.

For the Mackerel

Take the fillets of and remove all bones or ask your fishmonger to do that – these were small fish so we had 2 fillets each.

Make a marinade:

2 tablespoons of mustard oil – of you can’t this just use sunflower oil.

2 teaspoons of good quality fresh (not stale) garam masala

A 1/4 tsp salt

2 green & 1 red birds eye chilli’s de-seeded and finely chopped.

1 tsp coriander stalk finely chopped

a squeeze of lemon juice.

Mix the marinade together, coat the fish, wrap and set aside for an hour or so in the fridge (Mackerel should be kept refrigerated when possible).

For the potato curry

2 cups of potaoes chopped into 2.5 cm pieces.

2 banana shallots peeled and roughly chopped.

A handful of green beans, chopped into 5cm pieces.

1 tablespoon of coconut or groun

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

About 1/2 cup of milk

A tablespoon of ground almonds

1/2 tsp salt

1 star anise

Coriander, mild red chilli’s and toasted almonds to garnish

1 400g can coconut milk emptied into a large mixing bowl, to which add:

3 tsp madras curry powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp mild red chilli powder

1 stick of cinnamon or cassia

5 cardamom pods bruised

A few curry leaves or a bay leaf

Soften the onions in the oil in a large pan, then add the potatoes and move around the pan for a minute or two.

Now add the milk and the chilli flakes and salt.

Partially cover the pan and allow the potatoes to cook out for about 8 minutes then take the lid off and allow the milk to reduce.


Once there is very little moisture left in the pan, add the coconut milk and spice mixture.

Stir through and allow the mixture to simmer until the coconut milk has thickened and reduced and the spices have cooked out as well as checking the potatoes are tender – about 10 to 15 minutes, store in the ground almonds to thicken.

Now add the green beans and cook on for a few minutes.

Check the seasoning and set aside until you have cooked the mackerel.

Place the Mackerel fillets skin side down in a hot pan, seer the fillets on a high heat for about 3-6 minutes depending not he thickness of the fillets. then turn the fillets over carefully, continue to cook for a minute or two on the flesh side and then turn the heat off and allow the mackerel to rest in the residual heat of the pan


Assemble the Mackerel, potato curry and chutney on the plate, garnish and serve with warm chapati’s.













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