Famed as the “World’s Longest Beach,” Chennai’s Marina Beach, is alive long before the sun rises, a sandy village awakening. The sea brings all people in all forms for ritual feedings of a million pigeons, a fury of tangled nets and surprise catches, variable goodie bags of sea-life. However, when the sun is high the beaches of Tamil Nadu become largely abandoned. Unlike most of the world’s beaches, it’s clock set a little to the left of center and for good reason. In the heat of the day fisherman and locals scamper for shade and try to keep cool in any way they can. With temperatures rising well over 100 degrees in the summer and humidity nearly as close, it isn’t any wonder why.
By evening however, the sand is a beehive of activity and an evening walk on the beach isn’t complete without a promenade through game kiosks, seashell art, a chance photograph with a famous Bollywood movies star cut-out, a ride on a hand-spun carousel and a dip of your toes in the surf. The beach is a place for friends and family to gather after a long hot day, lovers to escape the prying eyes of the streets and children to dash about completely carefree.
It’s dish: Flavor Packed, Tamil Nadu Fish Fry.
The greatest thing about this recipe (besides the fact that it is my darling Mrs. Rita’s recipe) is that it simply isn’t fussy. The ingredients are essential, the preparation simple, but the flavor will knock your socks off. Mrs. Rita used a fish native to South India by the name of Pomfret, but here I use snapper or grouper and am even contemplating a Pacific Northwest Salmon Fry when I return home next month. I’ve even thrown this masala in my scrambled eggs. The masala recipe of each Tamil family is just a little different from their neighbors, but these tastes that keep the kids coming back home and the mamas cooking from dawn until dusk.