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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mustard Fish Curry with Tomatoes

Through my entire childhood we have been making Bengali type fish curries at my home. So I have always thought of them as our home food. My Mom had got the original recipe for this fish curry from our bengali friend, M Aunty. And M Aunty used to make the best, best, best Bengali food on this planet!! Yum!! We have had some of the most wonderful times with their family! :)

 Fig. 1. Mustard Fish Curry (with tomatoes)

Thinking back, the cuisine at my home has, perhaps, been unusually diverse. And if you make dishes from someone else's traditional cuisine often.. verrrry often, they become part of your own home-food and your kids grow up thinking this is "the usual yellow fish curry" with no sense of Bengali, Gujrati, etc. Is that ok? Well, there are many dishes in my Mom's recipe book which I consider "food from our home" and I don't mean to be rude by that. Due credit goes to the origins of these dishes. But I cannot honestly be sure that something we call Bengali or Punjabi or Gujrati is really all that authentic Bengali or Punjabi or Gujrati! Our family's preferences, variations and modifications have changed this fish curry over time. As far as our family is concerned, this and all variations of this recipe are what we call Mustard Fish Curry. Many thanks to M Aunty for sharing this with us!! I hope it still retains a fair essence of what she had originally intended!

When I make this curry, oh, the fragrance of the Panch Phoran seasoning whets my appetite even before I get to the fishy part of the curry!! :) Try it once if you are a non-vegetarian. If you don't have Kalonji, try it without it. But when you do add kalonji you will really notice a difference. I don't use mustard oil. But I imagine that must add tremendous flavor too.

Anyway, if you have all the spices then there is really no major work in this curry. Simplicity of gastronomical proportions! :)

Fish - about 3 filets of Tilapia is what I have used here.
Rai (Mustard) seeds ~ 2-3 teaspoons
Panch phoran, which is a combination of equal parts of Rai (Mustard seeds), Jeera (Cumin seeds), Badishep (Fennel seeds), Kalonji (Nigella Sativa seeds), Methi (Fenugreek seeds) ~ 1 teaspoon
Green chillies ~ 1, chopped, can increase as per preference
Haldi (turmeric powder) ~ 1/2 teaspoon
Onions - 1 medium, chopped (I added this today, can omit).
Tomatoes - 2 medium, chopped
Oil ~ As needed to fry fish. (I use a non-stick pan and get by on about 2 tablespoons of oil).
Salt - to taste

1) Apply salt and some haldi to the pieces of fish. Marinate for 2 hours or more if possible.
2) Shallow fry fish. Keep aside.
3) Take Rai and grind it into a powder. Add a little water to this powder and grind into paste.
You can also soak Rai seeds in water for a bit, so they become slightly softer and then directly grind them to paste, instead of dry grinding first and regrinding.
4) Season Panch phoran -{Rai, Jeera, Badishep, Kalonji, Methi} in oil.
5) Add chopped onions (I added these this time, optional). Cook.
6) Add chopped green chillies, tomatoes, mustard paste, haldi, salt. Saute till tomatoes are cooked.
7) Add fish and plenty of water. Cook. Stir very lightly or the fish will break.

Mustard Fish Curry is ready! I make it fairly watery if I am serving it with plain rice (like in the above pic). Usually at our place we eat this with rice and Amti made with Toor Dal, (here is my post on Amti made with masoor dal), I will post the Toor Dal version sometime in future. That combo is certainly not traditional, but that's the way we like it at our home. :)

Anyone who has made a similar fish curry, I would love to know which dal or accompaniment you serve with this curry.

If you were looking for more authentic Bengali Food or at least food made by a Bengali, then my best source is Bong Mom's Cookbook. Check it out!

Best wishes and thanks for reading! Have a great day!


thoughtsandpots said...

I am always looking for fish curry receipes san coconut; will definitely try it out.

Sushma Mallya said...

I have never made this type of gravy for seafood,but sounds great, looks delicious as well

SS said...

Thanks, Shilpa and Sushma!

Malar Gandhi said...

Mustard fish curry looks very inviting to me. tastee one for sure:)

Soma said...

panch foron is close to my heart. A lovely recipe.

SS said...

Thanks, Malar. :)

Soma, nice to see you here. Thanks for the compliment!