Monday, November 22, 2010

Dhonepata Maach -- Fish in a cilantro sauce

My two girls being different in a lot of aspects are uncannily similar and I am not including points about both being of the same gender here. For one they are both House Devils and Outside Angels. In case of LS, "Outside" means other people's homes and excludes public places like library, stores, mall etc.

But the charm of hearing "How well behaved your kids are", have worn off me.I would rather they jump on the neighbor's couch than mine and beat up snotty down the road than share my idli stand with him. I don't see that happening though. Even LS who screams if BS so much as touches her bagel, will politely give up her toys in face of a stranger who is not a house resident. And I did not even teach her to share !!!

Now to the fish. This recipe is my friend S's, the one who is the diva of fish fries and all such things. Have I told you she is an amazing cook ? Ok, I have.

But have I told you that she might be THE reason for me to eventually shut down this blog ? No, I haven't ? Well, I just did. I mean I didn't shut the blog, but if I ever did She(S) is to blame.

Every time I am at a dinner at her place, I want to come home and forget my password for Blogger. I mean there she is, cooking up a storm for 30 odd people, each dish perfect and delicious, the presentation beautiful and the best is, every time she has something new to offer, a slight twist on similar Bengali dishes  and here am I who gets the hibbie-jibbies at the very though of cooking for 30 people !!!

S is also very nice about sharing her recipes. She doesn't have intentions of filing a patent on them and her recipes are totally open source. She will share them with all her tips unlike some people who guard recipes like the state secret.

So last week at the dinner she hosted, she had made an amazing green fish/fish in cilantro sauce/dhone pata maach. It was very unlike anything I had ever had. It is another story, that "that evening" was unlike any I had ever had, what with the hostess accidentally cutting her hand and being rushed to the emergency for stitches and the kitchen looking like a murder scene with blood and shards of glass everywhere. But we Bongs are shameless folks, so while S was in ER we ate her awesome fish, bhapa chingri, biryani, fulkopi et al and discussed her awful accident.

Yesterday while discussing her eight stitches, she revealed the secret of her fish. I wanted to try it right then, but I did not have half her ingredients. So I improvised. The result was good but not as good as hers.

Maybe it is time for me to make the last call.

1. S said, we need Shaan Fish Seasoning. I had none and no way was I going to buy a box for one dinner for two of us . The ingredients on the Shaan Spice box said:mace, clove, cardamom, green mango powder, fenugreek leaves and what not. I mixed 1/4 tsp Garam Masala + 1/4 tsp Kasoori Methi + 1/4 tsp Corriander Powder + little Amchoor to make my own seasoning.

2. S said to use a little of MDH dried Mint. Again I gave this a skip.

3. S said to fry the fish, I baked them. S said to use a little ajwain, instead I used Methi/Fenugreek seeds and Big Brown Elaichi/Cardamom.

As a result my dish wasn't exactly like hers. But still I am writing it down both with her and my versions so that I NEVER forget her version which I intend to do soon.


Dhonepata maach -- Fish in Cilantro Sauce

Serves 2 adults and 1 kid. 2 fillet of Tilapia cut in cubes were used.

Grind together
1 cup of chopped fresh corriander leaves
1/2 cup of thick yogurt
2-3 fat cloves of garlic
1" ginger
4 green chili
to a smooth paste
Note: S used a little dry mint in this paste.

Cut the fish fillet in 2" cubes. S used a fish called Swahi, I did Tilapia. A firm fish with no strong flavor works well

Smear the fish with turmeric and salt and keep aside for 15-20 mins. Pan Fry the fish pieces till they are light golden on both sides. I baked them at 350 for 20 mins and then on broil for last 5 mins.

Heat White Oil in a saucier/kadhai. Add 1 cup of chopped red onion. Fry the onion till it browns on the edges. Cool and make a paste. I don't remember if she asked to use Tomato.

Season the oil with 5-6 methi seeds and two large cardamom. S did not use methi or cardamom, remember she had Shan. When the methi seeds sputter, add the onion paste. Fry for half a minute. Then add the corriander-yogurt paste. At low heat fry the masala till you see there is no excess water and oil seeps out from the edges. You need to cook the masala really well, you will no when it is drier than what you started with and there is oil around the edges.

Now add about 1 tsp of Shaan Fish Seasoning. I did not have this, so I added my spice mix of 1/4 tsp Garam Masala + 1/4 tsp Kasoori Methi + 1/4 tsp dry roasted Corriander Powder + little Amchoor . With a sprinkle of water fry the masala for a minute. Make Garam Masala like this.

Now add 1 cup of water. Add salt to taste. Let the gravy simmer at medium heat. Adjust and check for seasonings. I think I added a little sugar at this point.

Gently slide the fish pieces into the gravy. let it simmer for 2-3 minutes till gravy thickens. Switch off and transfer to serving dish.


  1. bookmarked! But probably for the excuse to read this post again so i can fall over myself laughing at how you all kept eating even when the hostess got carted to the ER. classic!
    thanks for sharing both versions of the recipe!

  2. Fingerlicking fish in cilantro sauce..yumm..

  3. Try it with Promfret (Butterfish). Tastes best. Also, you dont need to either fry or bake it, you can just boil the fish in the cilantro gravy and it will be awesome!

  4. All Bengali mums complain about their kids being well-behaved outside of home. I was termed bheja bedaal by my Dida, why, coz I was too nice and well behaved and at home, I was the brat.

    Love your Dhonepata Maach recipe. I should try this over the weekend. We get fresh, live Tilapia here in Chinatown. I have used pomfret once for a similar recipe, but had tandoor'ed it.

  5. Nice Article very useful for me.Thank you

  6. I made this last night. I didn't have all the ingredients but followed the recipe as closely as possible and it turned out really good. Thanks you so much for sharing :)

  7. Tell me about it. Have you been listening to the sibling story on NPR?

    Coriander with fish that is a stroke of genius. I so want to meet this friend, like you said not many cooks who dish up amazing dishes share their recipe. And hopefully her hand is better now.

  8. It's an wonderful article. My MIL makes dhonepata machh but in a different way, it tastes awesome too. Grind dhonepata,coconut and green chili together to a fine paste. Do not add a lot of water. Then add whole jeera as phoron and then chopped onion. Once the onions are transluscent, add the paste and took it on medium flame until leaves oil. Add the already baked/fried fish and just enough water to make a think gravy. Add salt and slit green chili.

    I didn't write it in detail, I think you can figure it out, afterall you're an experienced bong cook :)

    I'll try yours too.

  9. Ann
    You know we really did that !!



    Can I do the NO FRYING for filet of fish too ? Have you tried ? Does it break ?

    Amakeo bhije beral bolto ;-)


    Glad you liked it :)


    No, do you have the link ?


    Coconut sounds like a very good idea. Next time I am going to add a little of that while making the paste

  10. what a delicious blog! here is so many uncanny inspirations!

    have a nice time,

  11. is there a problem with blogger? some of the pics and headers do not appear is blogs. I saw ur header so thought of asking! but ur pics are good:)

  12. Hi! I am new to the blog and absolutely love it. Thanks so much for the great collection of bangali ranna! And you write as wonderfully as you cook! I have been going crazy trying out recipes from here, since someone gave me the link. Its like having ma cook for me again. Thanks a lot for this.
    I would love it if I can mail you, but did not find an id anywhere on the blog. However, just wanted to say, found a simpler recipe for dhonepatar maachh...with less ingredients, and I love that too, would love to share it with you.:)

  13. khubbbi mozaa....mmmmmm...thank u

  14. HI didi...

    I love your recipes... :) helps me get back my bongness... Although, my husband cooks up a storm whenever he wants (hes a half bong, half punju, brought up in bombay, so he cooks everything Indian) Im the only bong cook at home. So, I love every recipe you post. I have a craving for something, and I visit your blog and listen to everything you say. I have a kestion: Do you know how to make pantua? My mom makes the best, but she lives in Toronto now, and I dont think Ill be able to go down and learn anytime soon... but do you?

  15. Hi,
    Thank you so so much for this wonderful recipe. I made this last sunday for lunch..and my MIL who is not an ardent NV lover asked me, "Tui ki diyechis re ete?Khub bhalo hoyeche!!!Ami toh puro bhaath ta kheye niyechi!!!"This is the biggest compliment for me..becoz it comes from her!!!!Thanks to u!!!I was really floored by her compliment!!!

    I had skipped the Garam masala, the ajwain,the methi..still the result was lip smacking!!!!

    Thank you!!!!

    Warm regards,

  16. Besh bhalo ... I loved it to the bones :P Just added a dash of my own brains to the garnish : a blob of butter, some milk, sliced tomatoes, a macerated clove of garlic, whole corriander seeds splutted in ghee, freshly crushed peppercorns, and a squeeze of gondhoraj lemon!

    Bheeson versatile dish and I felt closest in taste to Greek style fish

    Thank you, tried it for wifey today :)

    P.S. Welcome to my blog

  17. Hi Can I make this receipe with prawn?

    1. Yes, should be pretty good. Or try this one

  18. Hi Sandeepa,
    I was looking for your recipe of Dhonepata chicken, but cant seem to locate it. Please please repost it..plz plz plz...I am begging you. I know you are extremely busy..but this is an earnest request from an ardent fan of ur blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Warm regards,

    1. Debjani

      Can you please e-mail me or give me you e-mail ? I am not sure what exactly you are looking for and maybe I have removed it because there is a similar version in the book. If you e-mail me I can send you the exact recipe you want

  19. this one and Kancha lanka murgi rank in most popular dishes in our household, turned out lip-smacking good every single time

  20. Cooked this yesterday- turned out awesome. I also used Shaan's fish masala :)

  21. etodin ey prothom try korlam ei recipe ta - tomar version ta. amar shaan fish masala ta expire korey giyechhilo. khub bhalo hoyechhe khete. ;-)



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