Bengalis are usually known for their fervor for Rice, Fish and Rasogolla – a myth more often than not proven true. Again, we also have what is commonly called “Probashi Bengalis” who do not follow (at least not always) the common trails of a pure bong and I guess that is where I belong to.
I might be a complete sweet lover but am also a roti person and try to keep a safe distance from ‘fishy’ stuff. Like any other ordinary Bengali household, in ours fish was considered a must-have for any meal. To add to that, being born and brought up in a U.P. town which did not have easy availability of good and varied fish frequently, it was looked upon as a sacred food and relished whenever possible.
I was actually the outcast.
There have been ample number of times when I was scolded and reprimanded for distaste for fish. Initially I was constantly reminded of the nutritional benefits of having this sea product. It then led to force and I was not allowed to leave the table without having finished my portion. I still remember how I would hide my share of the fish with some excess white rice and try to trash it sneakily. (It still bothers me to think of all those wasted food and am hoping my mom or ‘dida’ never read this part of my blog). Finally my folks resigned and accepted my aversion but continued to bother me by saying that they would get me married to a fish monger so that I end up handling and cooking fish on a daily basis. Luckily it was not meant to be so. I was silently glad and relieved to find out that our tastes and preferences matched when it came to sea-food. We both love prawns/lobsters and – well lets say – do not prefer fish to a great extent.
Coming to the US and cooking on my own made me appreciate many food items that earlier I chose to ignore. So as we tried to develop a taste for many other dishes, we also enjoyed having fish once in a while. Since I am still not comfortable with the fishy smell which is persistent with most of the fish that we get here, I try to stick to my Tilapia fillets.
So this recipe is a product of a quick research for a Saturday lunch with a little change of taste and style. As it turned out we both were floored with this so much so that Hubby-B (a new blog name for BBC) wanted to have this preparation again the very next day, which obviously I refused. I wanted to not repeat this frequently so that we could savor it for a long time.
- Fish – 3 fillet (roughly 12 oz) I used Tilapia, but you can use any fish. Can also try with prawns
- Oil – 3 tbsp or as required
- Salt – to taste
- Turmeric – 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp
- Red chillies – 3-4 (optional, for spice only)
- Cloves – 4-5
- Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp (Can use coriander powder)
- Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
- Fennel Seeds – 1 tsp
- Sugar – 1/2 tbsp
- Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
- Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
- Lime juice – 1 1/2 tbsp
- Onion, finely chopped – 1 small
- Tomato, grated or finely chopped – 1 medium
- Coconut, grated or ground – I used 1 cup of small coconut pieces for grinding. Can use 1 cup of coconut milk instead of grated coconut. However I prefer to use the former.
- Green chillies – 4 slit lengthwise (to taste)
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Curry Leaves – 6 -10
- Water – 1/2 cup or as required
- Coriander leaves – for garnishing
- Marinate the fish with salt, turmeric and a few drops of oil. Keep aside for a couple of minutes while you prepare the masala mix.
- Heat a pan and dry roast red chillies, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds. Once cooled down, grind them into a fine powder. Mix into this powder – turmeric, sugar, ginger garlic paste and lime juice to this powder. Grind them together once again if required. Keep aside this masala mix.
- Add oil to the heated pan and shallow fry the fish fillets on both sides till cooked. Do not over fry.
- Heat the pan, add some more oil if required, then add the chopped onions and fry them until soft and lightly golden.
- Add the masala mix and fry for a couple of minutes. Keep stirring till the spices are well mixed.
- Add grated/finely chopped tomatoes and cover and cook till they turn soft and is well blended with the masala mixture.
- Add salt to taste and turmeric. mix well. Cover and cook till oil starts separating and most of the moisture has evaporated.
- Add in the grated coconut or coconut milk and water (as required) and mix well.
- Add the green chillies and bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce heat and let it simmer till the gravy thickens.
- Add the fried fish into the gravy and let it simmer till the desired consistency is reached.
- Heat a separate pan and add little oil to it. Once hot add the mustard seeds and the curry leaves. Fry for almost 30 secs till they start popping. Add this mixture to the fish gravy.
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot with steamed rice.