Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Bangla-fied Kashmiri Fish Curry -- that is how we roll

Bengalis eat a lot of fish. Growing up, I think we ate fish almost every day of the week. Not Fridays, because that is my Mother's Puja Day and not Sunday because that was the National Bengali Mutton Curry Day. But all other days there was fish for lunch and dinner. And not just one kind of fish. We could go a month without repeating the same fish actually -- mourala, magur, shingi, chara pona, tyangra, pabda, parshe, rui, katla, bhetki, ilish, chingri, the variety was endless. With each kind of fish the fish curry too varied. Crispy fried mourala, a dry dish of tyangra with eggplants, a soupy curry of shingi, pabda in a mustard sauce, fried fish with bhetki, malaikari with chingri --- ahh just the names make my mouth water.

In my home here, we eat a lot of fish too. Not always the fish that I would actually love to eat but mostly the fish that my girls love. I had never thought being a mother would involve so much of "Mother India" martyrdom but that is what has happened. I cook what the girls will eat rather than I want to eat, just because it is difficult to cook 3 different dishes. This means though we eat a lot of fish, it always hovers between -- salmon, bassa, tilapia or prawns. To add variety I try to cook these fish in different ways, grabbing recipes from far east, unknown west and anything in between.

When I saw a fish curry posted by Anita @ A Mad Tea Party on insta, a few months back, I knew I had to make it. Her photo was so alluring that I wanted that fish curry right then. I pinged her for the recipe and the true blue Kashmiri that she is, she shared her home recipe with details as to what to do when and what to substitute. The recipe was not on her blog yet and so there was no measurement.

When it comes to recipes, I trust a "home-cooked" recipe above everything else and so I took her recipe of Kashmiri Fish Curry as the guide and then "Bangala-fied" it. Which means, I added all those ingredients that a Kashmiri wouldn't but a Bengali would when she doesn't have Kashmiri suggested ingredients.

So instead of thinned tamarind water --I had lime juice, Ginger powder --was subbed with grated Ginger, and the Ver Masala -- was replaced with Garam Masala but Anita had suggested this. And then i added some fried boris or vadis as we do in a maacher jhol often.

The gravy had no onion, tomatoes and was a thin, runny gravy just like our Bengali jhol. But what made it taste different was the fennel. What a lovely flavor it added and the mild sour punch of the lemon juice was so very refreshing. We all loved this curry and I have been making it often.
I dare not call it Kashmiri as I respect an authentic recipe and I think I deviated quite a bit from the original. We will just call this Bangla-fied Kashmiri Fish Curry and rest our case.

Bangla-fied Kashmiri Fish Curry

Buy Fish.

Depending on what you like and what you have access to, you can get
a. Rohu or Rui maach cut in steak pieces
b. Any other fish like red Snapper, Shad, Salmon etc.
c. Fillet of fish like salmon, Tilapia, Basa, flounder etc.

Now comes the vegetables that will go in this dish

Pick from hard vegetables like potatoes, radish, kolrabi
Pick a green

I went with 1 potato, 6-8 small red radish and 1 Zucchini

Chop all vegetables in half moon pieces.

Next the Spices

For tempering

2 Dry red Chili
2 small Tej Patta
1 stick of cinnamon
2 moti elaichi(black cardamom)
4 clove
1/4th tsp of Hing

Other spices

To make into a fine powder ~ 1.5-2 tsp of fennel seeds

2" of Ginger grated or 1 tsp of Dry Ginger Powder

Kashmiri Mirch -- 2 tsp

2-3 green Chili

Instead of tamarind water I used 2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice

Start Cooking

What to do with the Fish -- Fry or Broil

When using thick pieces of fish like Rohu/Rui, I would rather shallow fry the fish pieces.

Pat dry. Toss in salt and turmeric powder and then shallow fry in mustard oil.

When using other fishes, I try to broil instead of frying. Main issue is not only the oil but also it helps me control the oil splatter and the fish smell

Pat dry. Toss in salt and turmeric powder and then broil. broiling time will depend on the fish. For Salmon, instead of broil I like to bake for 25 mins at 275F

Make the gravy

Heat Mustard Oil to smoking

Temper with 1/4th tsp of Hing

Follow with all spices under Tempering

Once you get the flavor of the spices add
2 tsp of Kashmiri Mirch mixed in 3 tbsp of water.

It will hiss and sizzle, so now you will add the vegetables.

Add the harder veggies like potato and radish and saute for 3-4 minutes. Next goes in the softer veggies like zucchini and the greens. Saute for 5 more minutes.

Add the Fennel powder and grated Ginger and saute for 2-3 minutes more.

Now add 1 Cup of water, salt and let the vegetables cook.

Once the veggies are done add
2 tbsp of Lime juice
the green chillies
the fried or broiled fish pieces.

If needed add some more water. Taste for salt and adjust spices to your taste. Simmer for the next 5 minutes

Finish off with Kashmiri Ver Masala. I didn't have any and so used regular Garam Masala

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