Maachher Jhol - Bangladeshi Fish Curry
India's Neighbouring country and my Father's birthplace is Bangladesh. My father was born in undivided India. Like him a lot of present residents of East India were born in today's Bangladesh and when they came to India (as it is today) they brought along with them the food habits and some wonderful recipes. Today I am going to share one such recipe, which I learnt from from her. This simple fish curry can be made from any white fish. In case you don't get fresh water fish, you can use sea fish too... but the Fish Curry and Rice remains the ultimate comfort food for any Bengalis around the world.
Preparation Time : 15 minutes
Resting Time : 10 -15 minutes
Cooking Time : 40 minutes (including frying the fish)
Difficulty : Medium
Serves : 6 - 8
Method :1) Cut the fillets in about 4 cm size. Make sure that the pieces are almost uniform in size, so that they cook at the same time.
2) Wash and clean the fish and drain properly.
3) Rub the fish well with the 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
4) Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium flame. If you are using mustard oil, let it get smoking hot.
5) Now put fish pieces carefully in the oil and brown lightly on all sides without cooking them through. Don't put all the pieces together, they would not fry properly, fry them in batches.
6) Gently lift the fish out of the oil and put it on a plate. Turn off the heat.
7) Combine the ground coriander seeds, the cumin, ginger, 1 tsp turmeric,chili powder (cayenne pepper) and 1/2 tsp of salt in a small bowl. Add 3 tbsp of water and mix.
8) Remove all but 5/6 tbsp of oil from the frying pan. Heat the frying pan over a medium flame.
9) When hot, put in the nigella seeds(onion seeds/kalonji). When they crackle, a few seconds later, put in the whole red chillies.
10) As soon as they darken a bit, put in the bay leaves. When the bay leaves start to darken, put in the chopped onion.
11) Stir and fry the onion, lowering the heat, if necessary, until it is translucent and lightly browned. But don't allow the onions to get too browned, that will spoil the taste totally.
12) Add the spice paste. Stir and fry it for about 1 minute.
13) Add around a cup of water and let it come to boil.
14) Bring the heat to simmer and put in the fish in a single layer. Lay the green chillies over the fish.
15) Increase the heat a little and let it simmer for 2 minutes, spooning the sauce over the fish pieces as you do so.
16) Now cover, turn the heat to low and cook the fish for 10-15 minutes or until it is just done.
17) Check the seasoning and adjust if required.
18) Serve machher jhol with steaming hot rice.