Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Indian Fish Curry with tomatoes, coriander and mint

What is "The Indian Fish Curry" ? I have no clue.

I just named it thus. I have been clueless since yesterday. Yesterday, I spilled tea on LS's homework. The very first homework that she brings back back from Kindergarten. The one single worksheet which asked her to color all objects which start with a letter M. Objects as in, pictures of objects in an A4 sized worksheet.

So here I am calmly drinking my tea at the kitchen table while she is very importantly coloring the "mitt" , proud to have at least some homework compared to the loads that her fifth grader sister brings in. And then I shoot out my hand to point out that maybe it is a nice idea to color within the lines. And my shot out hand actually knocks off my cup of tea which spills part on her worksheet. No one is harmed, except for the worksheet. And my ego.

LS wags her finger at me and says "This time it is not my fault at all. Puro tomar dosh. All your fault." I nod my head in agreement and say "Sorry" umpteen times. We also mop up the worksheet which is now stained with my red label chai and set it to dry. I fear LittleSis would be hopping mad. Surprisingly she isn't. She takes a certain pleasure in the fact that it is all my fault and then asks me if I have to make more tea for myself as there was none left for me to drink. Tea is important to me.

Then I print more worksheets. I don't get the exact same one on internet so I print something similar. She does not complain and does the homework again. And at that point, I am a bit ashamed. If it had been my important work which was messed up by the kids spilling something on it, I would have shouted, given them a scolding and then a lecture on how to be more careful. And then I would have showcased that incident as an example for all of life's future lessons that I have planned for the girls.

"Remember that purple grape juice, the one that you spilled on my..., did you realize how it could have triggered global warming and war in Syria?" I would have droned.

LS with all her anger on her nose tip showed more composure than me.

While I am pretty generous with scolding my girls, I do realize that there is a lot to learn from them each day. Like the way BigSis is ready to take up harder tasks at school and the way she is comfortable facing a large crowd on the piano, scares me downright. When LS does her somersaults, stands on her head and tries to do cartwheels, I flinch and think how I can do none of those. They say children learn from their parents. It happens the other way too. Only I can never do cartwheels or play the piano. Ever.

Fish curry and those pretty painted cups are a gift from Mandira Maashi of Ahaar

This Fish curry which I have so generously named "The Indian Fish Curry" as if it is a representative of the 1.23 billion people in India, is a curry which probably no one has ever had or even heard of. But then it perfectly represents the country as it is not from east, west, south or north but is a dish which happened when I closed my eyes and started throwing things like tomatoes, mint, coriander from the refrigerator into the blender and then borrowed the tempering of tej-patta and methi seeds from my Mother's tomato fish curry. It is a blend. And a spicy, tangy one at that.

Also when I googled "Indian Fish Curry", my browser was flooded with curries from a lot of non-Indian sites shouting hoarse their best curry and some even claiming to be from Bengal. Couldn't be left behind I thought. If the world wants "Indian Fish Curry", I am all up for it.

I wish I could say this dish reminds me of "Desh ki Dharti" and smells just like the river that meandered right past my house. But nothing like that happens. Nevertheless it is a darn good curry and tastes beyond borders. And that river was a good 15 minutes from the house.

Fish Curry with tomatoes, mint and coriander

Buy Fish. Most important step. This is a versatile gravy and so you can choose almost any fish. Only not Hilsa. Never embarrass a Hilsa with "The Indian Fish Curry".
BTW I bought Tilapia from the Asian Market which was cut in steak pieces. I used about 6-8 of those steak pieces for this gravy.

Rinse the fish pieces. Pat them dry. Now rub them with salt, turmeric powder and leave them aside for 15-20 minutes.

At this point, which means 20 mins after the previous step, you are supposed to fry the fish. Fry in hot mustard oil. But thanks to my friend R, I no longer do this. I just broil the fish in the oven.
So drizzle some oil on the fish. Choose mustard oil if you wish. Then pop them in the oven to broil. I have a toaster oven which has a broil setting and 25 mins in there, the fish is done.
Of course your neighbor aunty from Kolkata will nod her head and say "tch-tch" and that nothing tastes like a fish fried brown in Shorsher tel. Smile and ignore.

Now to make the gravy put the following in a blender
1 cup of mint + coriander leaves(50% of each)
1 cup of pureed tomato OR 1 large tomato chopped
6-8 cloves of garlic
5-6 hot Indian green chillies
and make a fine paste

Heat some oil in a kadhai. Mustard oil should be good but any other will work. Few of you might disagree on that but what is "The Indian Fish curry" if there are no discords and disagreement.

Temper the oil with
2 Tej Patta/Bay leaf
few methi seeds, say about 15

Once the oil is flavored, add the paste you made. Fry the paste till oil starts separating. Unity in diversity.We all know that is what boosts the taste.

In a bowl take 2 tbsp of thick yogurt. To it add
1 heaped tsp of Coriander powder and 1/2 tsp of Kashmiri Mirch
Mix well.

Add this to the kadhai and saute for a minute at low heat.

Now add the broiled fish pieces and saute with the masala for a minute.

Add about 3/4th cup of warm water, salt and very little sugar to taste, 2 green chilli finely chopped and let the gravy simmer to a boil.

Once the gravy has reached a consistency which is not very runny, switch off heat. Sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves and cover the kadhai. Let the curry soak up the flavor.

Serve with rice or pulao.

Be ready to hear diverse opinions abut how good, or how bad or how ordinary it is. Also be ready to answer any questions about your before life, after life, price of fish, quality of fish and how Bunty's mother would make it way better.


  1. It's so good to read you again! I really miss your book which my mum has booknapped. *sigh*

  2. Lovely the curry as well as ur writing!!

  3. This recipe sounds so good. I've made chicken something like this once before, fish sounds even better. Bookmark korlam, weekend e banabo. The colorful cups make for a good prop :)

  4. I'm not a fishy person ( the husband is ;) ) so I'll talk about the former part of the post though the recipe does look good and I'll try it out for him. I learn something from my kids everyday but one thing that I learn consistently is the ability to forgive and forget. They do it so naturally :)

  5. Wonderfully written Sandeepa - recipe and the story about how we learn more from our kids than they do *sometimes* :).

  6. Hi,
    I love your blog and have tried some of the delicious and healthy recipes.Do stop by my blog at appreciate your comments and suggestions.Please spread a word about my blog and share it with your friends.thanks a ton.

  7. As I don't know Bunty, I don't care what her mom thinks! that aside, indeed, I learn from my kids everyday, and the most consistent lesson I learn is how to be tolerant and forgiving. I hope LS never loses that innate equilibrium.

  8. Hi,
    I find reading your blog de-stressing. You paint your pictures of your life so vividly. The aromas, spices just come wafting in. Tried some of your recipes from your book as well. I do write about food. Do stop by

  9. I write often about memories floating past. The actual one that I have dedicated to my fleet of excellent cooks is
    There were two cookery programmes of such names before the onslaught of internet that I often watched mesmerized by their spotless kitchens and equipments that were all so shining and new.

  10. Lovely post, kudos to LS! And lovely curry, can't wait to try :)

  11. Really big of LS not to scream, shout and nag you about your mistake!

    I am making your jhinge chingri posto, but without chingri and potato, added some peas instead.

  12. Oh 3 and half year old does the same and I feel so guilty!. He says "it's ok aayi" and gives a cute smile. He expects me to do same but I am not always so forgiving! We learn something from him every day!.

    Your fish curry looks great. Will have to try sometime.

  13. Yes, and yes.
    Yes to the maacher jhol, of course, but a bigger yes to learning from littlest one in the family. It reminds me of My Family & Other Animals, where Larry says of their mother, "we can be proud of the way we have brought her up" :)

  14. Hi, I like the fish curry made of mustard and tomatoes only. that is comfort food. its taste also explains y fish does not need heavy flavoring. I dont kn how this will taste let me try and get back.
    Ole friend.

  15. A simple meal, but very delicious :)

  16. Lovely post..the first bit. Hope LS keeps up the attitude!
    And the curry is on my must try list this weekend :)

    A friend guided me to this blog and glad she did. I found a treasure trove of reciepies which I can now whip up and impress mom in law :D

  17. Hi! Silent follower Priyanka here, made this tonight and oh my in fish heaven! This is just delicious :-) Tried it with king fish steaks (oh I shallowed fried it in mustard oil dont have a broiler), next time Tilapia it is. This is now one of my favorite fish curries!

  18. Hi! Silent follower Priyanka here. Made this tonight (using king fish steaks and shallow frying them in mustard oil for want of a broiler) and it is just delicious! im in fish curry heaven! Will be making this often and next time with Tilapia.

  19. in fish curry, past of yellow mustard seed is necessary or not? I heard it brings more good flavore?

  20. I've been your silent follower for a long time now and this is my first time commenting. I love your Indian recipes and dishes and they are worth really trying. Thanks for sharing them.

  21. So happy to be connected. love your writing and the recipes...

  22. Sandeepa!!! HELP!! I wanted to make this for lunchtoday but found that, instead of the regular mint, I picked up spearmint from the market instead!!! :((( Can I just go ahead and use that??? I have made this before and needless to say it was delicious!!!! Khub khub khete icche korche aajke!!!! :) -Ahona

    1. Ami to kokhono spearmint use kori ni. Pudina'r gondho hobe ki ? Tumi diye dekho


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