While I was going through the "Index" of my Blog, containing the list of recipes that I've tried, I realized that I have not made anything from the eastern region of India. I have always mentioned about North, South & Western Indian cuisine but never about the Eastern sector. I should be seriously ashamed of it. So I decided to introduce the "Eastern" Indian cuisine to all of you by including the recipe of the most popular dish of West Bengal "Macher Jhol". It literally means, Fish (Macher) & Jhol (Water). It is a typical runny Bengali fish curry cooked in mustard oil. Many of my friends are Bengali & I have truly relished the Bengali cuisine at their home.
I can closely associate myself with Bengal as I hail from the state Kerala. Both the states are miles away from each other but there are umpteen similarities between them. Be it Communism (We shall not talk about it), football fans (for a change, is not cricket they fancy), the sweetness of the languages (they sing while they talk) & most importantly the cuisine (rice & seafood) to list a few. The Gastronomic likeness is ten on ten. :)
A Bengali meal is highlighted by the fish preparation, & this is one of the most popular curries in the region. It is a thin curry, but the flavour of the mustard oil is striking. If you replace the mustard oil with any other oil, this dish will be surely edible but will lose its authentic flavour.
This is my first try, hence I have referred the recipe of Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. The recipe suggests you to use any fresh water, firm white fish with bones preferably, but I have used boneless Salmon as I had to customize it according to my "ingredient availability". Also my gravy is a bit on the thicker side, the authentic version suggests, it should be runny. Better late than never, here's the recipe. :)
- 500 gm rohu (any freshwater fresh, washed & scaled, cut into 8 plates )
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4 cup (50 ml) mustard oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 medium potatoes (cubed)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium red onion (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 2 big tomatoes (pureed)
- salt to taste & for marinade
- Wash the cut fish thoroughly under running water & drain in a colander. Add required salt & 1/4 tsp turmeric powder to the fish & rub with your hand nicely until well coated. Marinate for a minimum of 15 minutes.
- Heat a non stick pan & add the mustard oil. When the oil starts to smoke, reduce the heat to medium. (When using mustard oil, always bring it to smoking point in order to remove the pungent smell of the oil) Now add the cubed potatoes & saute till it is brown on all sides. Drain and set aside on a kitchen towel.
- To the same oil, add the fish pieces, two at a time & saute until browned. Drain & set aside with the potatoes.
- To the oil, add the mustard seeds & bay leaf. Let the seeds splutter. Now add the chopped onion & saute till golden brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste to it & stir again till the raw smell of the paste has gone.
- Now add the cumin powder, red chili powder & the remaining 1/4 tsp turmeric powder & stir for a minute.
- Add the tomato puree & simmer until the oil comes to the top.
- Add 1 & 1/2 cup of water & required salt & stir. Close the pan with a lid. When it comes to a boil, add the fish & potatoes & simmer for 5-8 minutes more.
- Serve hot with steamed white rice. AAH! My mouth is watering while I write the recipe. :)