Winter is there at my doorstep, knocking on my doors, announcing its arrival. In the twirling of the fall leaves, the chill of the air, the Diwali lights blinking on the front porch, that’s what I hear. This is the time that reminds me of Winter in India, winter in the plains of Bengal not very harsh but winter that let’s you soak up the sun during the day, cuddle up in the warmth of a lep (blanket) at night.
I grew up mostly away from Kolkata (where nowadays what we have during December-January is an apology to winter), in small townships where winter was much better and brighter. Winter also meant the local hat (marketplace) looked much more colorful with the bright red tomatoes, the fresh green dhone-pata(coriander leaves), the orange carrots, the deep red of beetroots. These were vegetables available only during winter months and my Ma made the most use of them. Our daily fish curry had a different flavor during these months. Today with the winter sun streaming down my kitchen windows, all those memories rushed back, and I decided to make this fish curry which was a favorite at our home, during these months.
This is a light fish curry with tomatoes and coriander leaves and almost no other spice. This is a dish that is usually cooked for a quiet lunch at home with the family, and with fish like Rui (Rohu) and Chara Pona (baby Rohu fish). I made this with fresh Pomfret from my local Chinese store and it was delicious.
What You Need
Serves 3 people
3 Pomfrets ~ each cut into 2 or 4 steak like pieces
Tomatoes ~ 1 medium and maybe a a half more
Ginger ~ freshly grated around 1tbsp
Green Chillies ~ 4/5
How I Do It
Wash the fish pieces in warm water, pat dry & and mix them with a teaspoon of turmeric powder and salt. Keep aside for 20/25 minutes
Chop tomatoes in small pieces
Heat oil in a Kadai/Wok till you see smoke just coming out, indicating it's hot enough.
Fry the fish in hot oil till it turns light golden on both sides, kind of deep fry. The only draw back of this is most of the oil goes to waste as you discard most of the oil after frying. You can also save this oil for frying fish again next day as my Ma would do.
Heat oil in Kadai/Wok.
Temper with Kalonji/ Kalo Jeera and slit green chillies.
Add the chopped tomatoes
Saute till they become a fine pulp, kind of mushy
Add the freshly grated ginger, a pinch of turmeric powder and water
When the gravy comes to a boil add the fish pieces.
Add fresh coriander leaves.
Cook for a few more minutes and you are done. The gravy is light and is best enjoyed with white rice.
Trivia: There are towns called Pomfret in New York, Vermont and Connecticut which have nothing to do with the fish and aslo a private school with the same name in Connecticut. No doubt this fish is also called Butterfish in the Chinese Stores