To be honest I have never eaten Bengali food (other then the yummy Bengali sweets). So when I got to know that Regional Cuisine of India is Bengal this month, I kept thinking hmm, what can I submit? I know Bengali’s love fish. I thought this is the best time for me to use the fish in the freezer (hubby dear doesn’t like fish, so I rarely get a chance to make it and since he is traveling on work…it is time to defrost the fish). I also know that mustard is a favorite spice and both mustard seeds and oil are used widely in Bengali cuisine.
So, I went about searching for a good recipe, instead of looking online, I went through the many cookbooks that I treasure in my kitchen. This recipe is adapted from Camellia Panjabi’s 50 Great Curries of India. In the book she says that this is the dish-célebré of Bengali cuisine, and the preferred dish is bony Hilsa(Tenulosa Ilisha). The traditional recipe imparts a rather strong flavor, so she has improved the dish with the inclusion of tomato and little lime juice. You can use fish such as Cod, Halibut, Turbot or Monkfish. I used Tilapia fillets for this recipe.
Serves 2 - 4
- 1lb 5 oz piece of fish
- 1 ¾ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 2 tbsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 2oz/60g fresh grated coconut
- ¾’ ginger
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 green chilies (or more)
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 -1/2 red chili powder
- 5 tbsp oil (I used 1-2 tbsp)
- 3 tomatoes pureed (I used 1 cup tomato sauce)
- Juice of ½ lime
- 2 tbsp coriander leaves
Wash the fish thoroughly. Smear each piece with a little salt and leave for half an hour.
Toast poppy seeds for 2 minutes on a griddle on low heat. Then pound in a motor and pestle, with a little water. (I toasted the poppy and mustard seeds together and did the next step).
Grind together the crushed poppy seeds, the mustard seeds, turmeric, coconut, ginger, garlic, green chilies, onion, coriander, cumin, red chili powder and 1 ¼ tsp salt, along with ½ cup water, to make a paste.
In a large frying pan heat the oil over moderate heat and fry the spice paste for 6-7 minutes, stirring continuously and adding a little water at a time (up to ½ cup) as and when required.
Add the tomatoes and sauté for 3 minutes adding 2/3 tbsp water of required. Then pour in 2 cups water and the lime juice and simmer for 5 minutes on low heat. Adjust seasoning.
Add the fish pieces and cook until done. Sprinkle with fresh coriander leaves when serving. This dish traditionally eaten with rice.