Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fish Curry On a Winter Noon


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
Corriander leaves
Turmeric Powder
Kalonji/Kala Jeera

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 salt.
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


  1. wow... in winter my mom would make machers jhol with cauliflower and potatoes... it was yummy. your kalakand also looks delicious.

  2. dear sandeepa,
    tomar soya sprout er mochar ghonto ekdin try kortei hobe. hehehe,mocha front e kichutei amar sasuri ke beat out korte parchilam na. your recipe looks like a saviour. thanks for sharing.

  3. Sandeepa,perfect way to warm up a winter noon with Macher Jhol ..
    and with " Mishti Dui" its a winner ,Yummy !!

  4. Hi Mandira,
    Yeah, that's another fish curry I love. You can also do that for dinner whereas this is very light.

    Tomar sasuri ma to originally opar banglar, tai na ? tahole beat kora mushkil ache :) tomar blooger lekha khub bhalo laglo

    Diwali ar Kali Pujo kemon katlo ? Tomra PA te kon dik e thako ?

  5. Looks good, must taste even better after all those Diwali sweets!:))

  6. This fish curry looks sooo good. Everytime I try to cook fish curry, it always goes wrong (always taste bad compared to what Mom would have cooked). I am hoping to cook this now with little more confidence. Do you have any suggestions of fish from the American grocery shops that will work (like catfish, sole ) ?

    I was sooo excited with your method of Kalakand, that I ran to the closest grocery shops to get the ingredients and made it. It was perrrrfect. Thanks Sandeepa!

  7. Promfret (Butterfish) with coriander paste is heavenly. Maybe try that as well as fish fry .. those will taste good

  8. Hey Asha,
    Yeah, fish curry in all forms taste good:)

    Hi Mystic,
    You sure are a enthu cook :) I have never tried this with cat fish are sole. Give it a try and let me know. You can also try Red Snapper or Striped Bass(not Sea Bass). Basically since the masala is minimal the fish should be fresh and not have a fishy:)smell Remember to put in a lot of fresh corriander leaves.

    Yeah I make that too, but then I bake and not fry

  9. Wow! I like pomfrets and had posted few recipes with it. I am drooling looking at the pictures Sandeepa. Very well done.

    Btw, here is my invitation to you to participate at VCC Q3 2006; the deadline has been extended to Oct 31. Cheers!

    My Dhaba

  10. Hi Vkn,
    Thanks for your comments. I don't know yet what VCC Q3 is, but thanks for the invite. I will check your site for the details

  11. You dont know how happy it made me to see a fish recipe on your blog! Ususally I see only veg recipes in Indian blogs and I miss out the non-veg cooking of other cuisines. Great! Now I can learn some non-veg Bangla cooking.

  12. Hi,I just got married into a Punjabi family...loving their food kinto nijer banagali khavar kote din ej khaini jane na...bhishon ichche korche maar hather ranna khete..rooti khe khe aar bhal lagchche na...ami nishchoi try korbor apnar recipe keep posting loads of them.Lov,ruchira

  13. This looks wonderful. Thanks for the link. I will lookmaround for pomfret.

  14. Hi Sandeepa,

    Loved u'r recipe and the preamble to it. It reminded me of the lovely times spent studying at my bong friend Dalias' place over her mums' delicious 'macher jhol'. have tried it many times since but never turns out quite like her mums'. will certainly try out u'rs. thnks, Pallavi

  15. hey Sandeepa...I just came upon your blog. Nothing like a nice picture of a fish curry to take one's thoughts home. I live at Bombay. If you thought that Calcutta had an apology of a winter, think again! I love shopping for fish, while my wife, A parsi, loves eating it. So our fish is stcoked with rui, eelish and pomfret right now

  16. and we did have a lovely Sunday lunch with bhaaja moonger daal, alu posto and eelish bhaaja

  17. why don't you post the amounts of the ingredients? how can we try the recipes without those? Nice blog otherwise and good recipes

  18. The best and closest substitute to Rohu / Rui (however you spell that) is Trout. White Trout has always been my saviour whenever I start craving for Rohu fish curry.

  19. Hey,

    I am new here, I have been referring to your blog since quite a long time for making lovely dishes but somehow was unable to leave comments (life is keeping busy)

    I wanted to Thank you for all the lovely dishes u are getting for people like us who just love to eat 'Maa-er haather ranna" but dont know how to cook ;)

    I have tried shukto,kalakand,kumro chingri n many more recipe of yours and honestly each n every dish was amazingly tasty(cud not find other word).

    Thank you very much.

  20. Nice recipe!

    I was wondering about the gravy---from the pic,it seems quite a lot, but in the recipe, I didn't see anything that will give so much body to the gravy. Certainly 1 tomato did not do the trick :-)

    So, whats the secret? (I was guessing onions, but maybe not :-) )

  21. Adnan

    The secret ingredient is water ;-) Read the recipe, it says water.

    I am sorry I take things for granted and expect ppl to understand the nuances , maybe I should update these little things

  22. Oh Thanks a lot for the reply!

    Your recipes are wonderful as they are :-)

    and certainly water would be there :-), that much I can figure on my own. but without some help from vegis like tomato/onion/even flour, the gravy would be watery, right?

    In the image, beneath the level of yellowish oil, I can see a rich gravy, and somehow I thought that was not possible with only 1 tomato.

    Maybe i need to actually try it out.

    Thanks again!


Thanks for your Comments. I hope you will be nice and not Spam.