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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Easy Peasy Bengali Fish Curry to Include in Daily Menu

My very trusted domestic help, who cooks for me and my son on most days, was absent from work for about 3 weeks as her daughter was ill with a viral infection for more than 2 weeks.
It was difficult to get out of the usual routine and put in the extra bit of effort to cook for ourselves during that time. The only issue plaguing me was fish – part of the daily diet of a Bengali family. My Bengali culinary skills are very poor and especially when it comes to fish, my confidence levels were always low. With no cook for more than 2 weeks,  I had to do something about it but didn’t know what till my ex-father-in-law (he is known as Partha Chatterjee) came to my rescue. My ex-father-in-law is a good cook and although I have always noticed how swiftly he did things in the kitchen (not without the help of my ex mother-in-law of course!), I was amazed at the fact that he made the entire process look so simple - exactly what he does when he teaches music to his students!

My ex-father-in-law, Partha Chatterjee
My ex-father-in-law cooks the fish curry

I have enjoyed many of his sumptuous fish curries during my trips to the USA in the past and I am happy to share the recipe with you today! In the US, he used Salmon. This one is a Rohu Fish curry recipe. It is very easy to make and is that important, nutritious part of our daily diet that keeps  health going. Although this is a basic recipe, it was a big deal for me to learn it because I finally came out of the monotony of resorting to  short-cuts of baking or grilling fish.
Here goes the recipe:
1.       Four slices of fish (preferably Rohu)
2.       Turmeric powder 4 teaspoons
3.       One teaspoon Coriander powder
4.       Half teaspoon Cumin powder
5.       Salt to taste
6.       Fresh Coriander leaves
7.       2 tbs Mustard Oil
8.       Half teaspoon Black Cumin
9.       One Medium sized potato, peeled and sliced into 4-5 pieces
1.   Two dried red chillies or ¼ teaspoon of red chilli powder (optional)

1.       Sprinkle half a teaspoon of turmeric powder into the fish along with salt and smear the slices of fish well in them.
2.       Heat one tbs of Mustard oil in a non-stick deep pan.
3.       When the oil is hot, put in the slices of fish and fry them on both sides till the colour is golden yellow.
4.       Drain the fried fish and put aside.
Fry the fish on both sides till it turns a bright, golden yellow.

5.       Put the rest of the oil into the frying pan and put in the dried red chillies and sprinkle the Black Cumin seeds when the oil is hot.
6.       When the seeds and chillies emit a nice aroma, put in the Coriander, Cumin and Turmeric powder into the oil. Important to note here is that, these spices need to be mixed together in about 30 ml of water and poured into the oil.
7.       Cook  the spices for about 3 minutes till they blend and put in the potato slices and fry for another 2 minutes. Pour in another 30 ml of water and cover the pan and let it cook for another 3-4 minutes on medium heat.

The most important thing about a simple Bengali fish curry is the consistency of the gravy!

8.       Put in the slices of fish and depending on how much gravy you want, put in the required amount of water, salt to taste and cover and cook for another 15-20 minutes.
9.       Transfer the curry into a serving dish and garnish with fresh coriander leaves and green chillies and serve with warm, steamed rice.
Garnish the curry with coriander leaves

In Bengali basic fish curries as this, the challenge is to get the correct aroma of the curry and completely flatten the fishy odour which can only be done with just the optimum amount of frying the fish and the spices. 

Riju takes a peek while Grandpa cooks!
Riju taking a peek at what Grandpa is cooking!

Dad shared another important tip that day about that:

·         Dip a corner of the wooden spatula into the oil. If the oil glimmers and bubbles at the tip of the spatula, it means the time is appropriate to put in the slices of fish for frying or the spices to bring out the correct aroma.