As a Bengali, Maach or fish will always remain close to my heart. If I talk about my favorite variety of fish recipes, then it has to be Doi Maach or Yogurt Fish Curry.
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Well, I cannot begin to describe my experience with Doi Maach. My earliest memory of Doi Maach is my grandmother making a rich, spicy Doi Maach curry with very little gravy. She would say, “Ota sukhno sukhno khete hoi” – meaning, it is to be eaten dry. And, I cannot even begin to describe its taste to you.
Creamy, spicy, rich gravy with large pieces of rohu fishes swimming here and there flanked by large dried red chilies and bay leaves would a real treat for eyes and of course the taste buds.
My grandma was the best cook in this world. She had that thing in her hands which we call – the magic of cooking. And, her most popular recipe was Doi Maach or Yogurt Fish Curry. She was an expert in making Doi Maach.
And, no matter how old I get, or how many variations of this recipe I try, no one, I repeat, no one can match that level of taste. Not even me. But, yes! She has taught me how to make it.
And, today I am going to share her recipe with the world. Maybe I was born to share it with the world. She must be there in heaven looking at me sharing this article with y’all. I know she’d be proud of me.
So, how to Make Authentic Homemade Doi Maach or Yogurt Fish Curry?
Doi Maach or Yogurt Fish Curry has got three pillars.
- One – the spices
- Two – the yogurt
- Three- the fishes
Without any of the above, it’s impossible to make Doi Maach.
First, we grab our spices. So head over to the kitchen and open your fragrant box of spices. Pick out some dried red chilies (peppers), some cinnamon sticks, some cardamom pods, and some bay leaves.
Second, grab your ground spices – we’ll need red chili powder (or Smoked Paprika), turmeric powder, Ground Cinnamon, Ground Cardamom, Salt, and Sugar. That’s it. Nothing fancy. Nothing that we don’t have at home.
Now – get your hands together for the star of the show – our creamy friend – Yogurt.
Mix all these ground spices with yogurt and make a smooth paste. No need to add oil or water. Just mix it well with a spoon and keep it aside. We are gonna need that later.
Now, we’ll need to marinate our fishes with some salt and turmeric. Then fry them in hot oil. But, don’t fry them red or too crisp. Just lightly sear them for about 2-minutes at high flame. It would stick to the pan. So keep turning them frequently. Fry the fishes from both sides. And, that’s done. Keep your fishes aside.
What to do with that oil? Well, my granny would pour it all over the fishes. Yeah! That is gonna bring out the taste! So, now the fishes are DONE.
In the same pan take some ghee. Yess! Ghee or Clarified butter is what we are gonna use to make this. Add your whole spices (if using). And close your eyes and just enjoy every bit of that heavenly smell. Let that smell stir your imagination. But, let’s not burn it.
Into this goes our yogurt mixture. Notice the splutter in the pan. Watch how the curry bubbles and mixes with the whole spices and ghee. Stir it well.
In the meantime, grab your cup and add some water. Not much. My granny would always ask me to keep it as dry as possible. The flavors lie in the oil and ghee. So let it be dry.
Now, bring your fish and place them in the pan. Coat the gravy over the fish and let it come to a slight boil and that’s it. Your Doi Maach is ready. Wasn’t that easy?
Pat your back and give a big round of applause to yourself. You have finally made the world’s best fish curry. I can promise you that you will love every bit of this Yogurt fish curry.
How much should we fry the fishes?
When making Doi Maach, never fry the fishes too much. We don’t need crispy, crusty fish. We need fish which is soft but slightly cooked. Cook both sides in hot oil for just 2-minutes until lightly seared.
Can we replace Clarified Butter or Ghee with Salted Butter?
Well, if you don’t have clarified butter at home then you sure can. But, I highly recommend using ghee.
Does this need Onions?
Of course NOT! I just saw that people are looking for Doi Maach without Onions. Well, this is the recipe that you need when you want to make Doi Maach without Onions.
Who gives onions in Doi Maach? Seriously! This recipe doesn’t need onions, garlic, ginger, or tomatoes. Yet, this is the best Doi Maach Recipe that you will ever come across in your entire life.
Doi Maach or Yogurt Fish Curry Recipe
- 1 Cup Yogurt thick and creamy
- 1½ tablespoon Red Chili Powder or Smoked Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder some for marinating the fishes and some for the paste
- 1 tablespoon Sugar or as per taste
- 1 tablespoon Salt or as per taste
- 2 whole Dried Red chilies
- 2 Pods Cardamom or 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cardamon
- 2 sticks Cinnamon broken or 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 3-4 tablespoon Vegetable oil for frying the fishes (or Canola Oil or Olive Oil)
- 3 tablespoon Ghee or Clarified Butter for making the curry
- Mix ground spices with yogurt and make a paste.
- Marinate the cut and cleaned fishes with Turmeric and Salt. Heat Vegetable Oil in a pan. As the oil shimmers, add the fishes and sear them lightly - on both sides - for two minutes on high flame. Transfer to a different plate. Pour the remaining oil over the seared fishes.
- In the same pan add some ghee (or a knob of butter) and add whole spices(if using). As it gets fragrant add your yogurt paste and stir well keeping the flame low. As the oil begins to separate add just a tad bit of water depending on the kind of gravy or curry you want. You want to stir constantly at this point to mix the Yogurt mixture thoroughly. Leaving it and stirring occasionally might curdle the Yogurt. Add water in streaming motion, a little at a time, stirring frequently.
- Slowly keep the fried fishes in the gravy and turn off the heat. Toss to combine and serve.
- Never put onions or garlic while making Doi Maach or Yogurt Fish Curry. It's just pointless.
- Do not fry the fish too much. Just lightly sear them for 2-minutes at low flame until golden brown on both sides.
- You can use any variety of fish you can find around you to make this recipe
- This recipe also works great with shellfishes
- If you aren't using Whole spices, use Ground Cinnamon & Cardamom
- If you aren't able to find these two spices, use a good quality Garam Masala. It is easily available in all grocery stores.