Hailing from a Bengali family, Fish has been a common affair in my house. I clearly remember those early Sunday mornings, when I used to wake up to the sound of a fish seller going around the houses in my colony repeating the names of various fishes he has got in his bag. He used to get fresh fishes from the pond and fish lovers like my Mom would ask him to repeat the names of the fishes he has got. Then the next question would be, which one is fresh?
I hail from Eastern part of India. And in Eastern India - two things are everywhere. One is the smell of fishes and another one is a sight of furry white cats roaming around from one home to another. Amidst those tall coconut trees, small boundary walls of homes, and those narrow lanes where you can overhear the melodious Rabindra Sangeet and the sound of Ghungro (anklet bells) fishes will always be the focal point.
If you ask a "pati bangali" person like me about our fondest food memory then it will be the memory of sitting on the floor with the entire family and enjoying a bowl of white rice with a simple-modest and humble fish curry beside it. Making a small hole in the center of the rice on our plate and pouring the gravy in that hole. And, then enjoying the delicious meal.
In Calcutta Mach Bhaat or Fish and Rice is everywhere. Whether you are walking through the busy lanes of College street or sitting across the Ganges and feeling the cool breeze on your face, as the clock strikes 2 in the afternoon - you will see people flooding small restaurants feeding on Mach Bhaat.
Years from then, today I am here in the US. But, my fondest memory of a lazy Sunday afternoon will always be overeating "Mach bhaat" or Fish and Rice and then having some Ajwain or Carom Seeds and enjoying a long siesta.
Today I was craving to re-create that memory. So, that's how it all began.
So, Let's Make Authentic Fish Curry Today
First, wash your Fishes and marinate with Turmeric and Salt.
Next, heat oil and fry the Fishes in it. Fry the fishes over medium heat. Fry both sides until they turn brown and crispy. Take them out carefully and keep aside.
Next, in that same oil add the chopped onions and ginger-garlic paste. Stir them well and cook properly.
In a separate mixing bowl, mix yogurt with salt, sugar, red chili powder, turmeric, and cumin powder. Mix everything well and then pour this Yogurt mix into your cooked onions. Stir constantly so that the yogurt does not curdle.
Once the oil begins to separate add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and mix well.
Next, add the Poppy seeds paste into the gravy and mix well until combined.
Finally, add the Fishes into it along with some water and mix well.
Top with some grated ginger, Ghee, Fresh cream, and Chopped Cilantro.
Serve with some rice
So, that's how you make authentic fish curry in Bengali style. There are a million variations to this recipe and people customize it as per their needs.
Other possible variations to this recipe:
- You can make this recipe a little milder by not adding the poppy seeds paste.
- You can make this curry more comforting by adding potatoes in the curry. 🙂
Fish Curry is more of a nostalgia for me today. It's not just a recipe, that gets cooked in your kitchen, but with it comes the countless stories you've grown up hearing or instances and memories which remind you of your childhood. This Fish curry does that to me!
Cooking this reminds me of the countless occasions this used to be made in my home. How my grandma used to make it for special occasions and people used to be fed with utter love and care.
In fact, my grandma would force you to take that extra scoop of rice, because she knew that you loved it and also that an extra scoop wouldn't hurt anyone. It's just the warmest gesture that I have grown up seeing and I miss it so much today!
Those hot summer afternoons and a comforting bowl of Fish curry are all you need to feed up your hunger. So make this delicious Fish curry for yourself and your family and enjoy the warmth of Eastern India on your plate 🙂
Authentic Fish Curry
To marinate the Fishes
- ½ lbs Fish cleaned and cut into squares
- 1 tablespoon Turmeric Powder
- 1 tablespoon Salt
To make the Curry
- 1 Cup Red Onions chopped
- 2 tablespoon Asian Ginger Garlic Paste
- 2 tablespoon Poppy Seeds Paste
- 4 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
To make the Yogurt Mix
- 3 tablespoon Thick Yogurt
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Red Chili Powder / Smoked Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder
For the Garnish
- 1 teaspoon Ginger shredded
- 1 tablespoon Ghee / Butter
- 1 teaspoon Fresh Cream
- ¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro chopped
- Wash your fishes properly and marinate them with turmeric and salt
- In a deep wok or saucepan, heat oil to smoke and fry the Fish pieces both sides until crispy. Keep Aside
- In the same wok add the chopped onions and ginger-garlic paste. Cook on low flame.
- In a separate mixing bowl, mix Yogurt with Salt, Sugar, Red Chili Powder and Cumin Powder
- Add this Yogurt mix into your curry and mix well so that the Yogurt does not curdle.
- Now add the ground Cinnamon and mix well.
- Next, add the poppy seeds paste and mix well.
- Finally, add the Fishes along with some water and mix well.
- Top with some Grated ginger, ghee, Fresh Cream, and chopped cilantro. Serve hot with rice.
- If you are not able to find Ginger Garlic Paste, replace it with chopped ginger and garlic.
- If you do not have Yogurt, you can use Sour Cream in its place
- Although it's not really possible to find the replacement for Poppy seeds paste, you can find the nutty flavor by replacing it with Pecan Paste.