#FromMyKitchen is a brand new series on the blog. Here, I bring you recipes which are easy to cook at home, perhaps on a weekend when you feel adventurous enough to do so. Let me begin with an honest confession. The kitchen was never a favorite place for me. Fortunately for me, in the first year of my married life, my mother-in-law ensured that she held charge of her “territory.” This ensured I was spared the tribulations of cooking, since all I could manage was cooking a very basic meal, at the most.
Of course, I chipped in to help her whenever I was around and this continued for a year. It was only about a year and a half later, that marked my historic first entry into the kitchen, when we set up home in Mauritius. It all began with me being homesick one day and sorely missing mom’s cooking. I confess I’m not a foodie by any measure, but I was really missing good, home-cooked food, for a long time. Needless to say, being a novice and unable to replicate mom’s recipes only made it worse. During one of my trips back home, I had picked up a few cookery books that were gathering dust on the shelves. It was time to bring them out and thus began my tryst with the culinary world. Out of sheer necessity at first, but with slow and steady steps, countless disasters and endless experimentations later, I realised cooking was not all that difficult. Like everything else, it was all in the mind. Having banished all my fears aside, I welcomed the ‘cape’ into my life! Voila, the magic had just begun! My husband, Jay was the biggest beneficiary from my new project. Being a real foodie, he lapped up the dishes, one by one, with great relish and enthusiasm. His “acchey din” had finally arrived, you see! Not for long, though. In about a year’s time, we set off for England, when I got a place for a Masters programme. But, that is another story, which I shall leave for another day.
Today, let me begin with a signature Bengali dish. And why not? There could be nothing more quintessentially Bengali than Mustard Fish, to kick off the series. Not least because it is a great dish but because this was one of the first recipes that I had mastered as a cook, and have had quite a few requests from friends to share it.
Before I begin, let me remind you all, Bengalis love their fish cooked to perfection, and will not hesitate to kick up a storm if anyone messes with it. Having said that, Parul’s post is proof that even the North-Indians love this dish as much. Here, I’m sharing my favourite family recipe, easy enough even for the novice cook to try out on a lzy Sunday.
Now, let me tell you, in most Bengali households, Fish is eaten daily. To ensure variety in taste, they prepare their fish in myriad ways – Macher Kalia, Maacher Jhol (Fish Curry), Shorshe Maach (Mustard Fish), Maach Bhape (Steamed Fish in Mustard Sauce), Maacher Jhaal (Spicy Fish curry ) to name just a few. All said and done, I’m of the belief that a good fish curry is a true soul food – a true homecoming if you know what I mean!
Here goes the recipe for Mustard Fish or ‘Shorshe Maach’.
Recipe for SHORSHE MAACH (Fish in Mustard Sauce)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes.
Serving Size : For 4
Things to keep in mind: Do keep in mind that before frying the fish, oil must be smoking hot, otherwise the fish tends to stick to the pan. Think ahead – mustard paste can be prepared in advance. This recipe is meant for freshwater fishes, such as Rohu, Catla and Tilapia, but I’ve also tried it with cod, sea bass and salmon fillet and it tastes just as mouth-wateringly good. Feel free to try any fish you love. Please note that the quality of the mustard oil is very very important because this is what lends the distinct flavour and the typical aroma to this dish.
- Fish fillet or steak cut : 6-8 pieces
- Yellow mustard seeds (to be soaked in water for an hour or more and then made into a paste): 3-4 tbsp or ready-to-cook Mustard Powder/paste from the supermarket.
- Black caraway or Kalonji (nigella seeds) : 1/2 tsp.
- Green chilies : 2-3 or as required
- Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp
- Kashmiri red chili powder : 1/4 tsp
- Tomato puree : 2tsp
- Salt to taste
- Mustard oil : 2-3 tbsp (I prefer Dabur Kachhi ghani for this one!)
- Fresh coriander to garnish
- Clean Fish chunks carefully and rub little Salt and Turmeric Powder to the Fish pieces and leave those for 10 minutes. Make a paste of Mustard Seed using either a grinder or a mixer.
- Mix a little salt and a sliced green chili with the mustard paste and leave it aside for around 15 minutes. (You may also substitute it with readily available mustard paste, if you prefer.)
- Heat the mustard oil in a Wok. It should be sufficiently hot.
- Now add the fried fish pieces very carefully in medium heat till the fishes turn golden brown in color.
- Strain fish pieces from oil and keep them aside.
- In the same oil, add kalonji or black caraway seeds. When these begin to splutter, add add turmeric and Kashmiri red chili powder to the gravy.
- Now, add the tomato puree and cook for around 5 minutes or till the aroma of uncooked tomatoes goes away.
- Next, add 1/2 Cup of water to the mustard paste and strain the liquid to discard the mustard skin.
- Add the mustard mixture to the gravy and bring it to boil.
- Add the fried fish pieces to the gravy.
- Cook for around 8-10 minutes in medium flame and turn fired fishes to coat them properly with the mustard gravy.
- Water level can be adjusted if required. Try to keep a medium consistency.
- Now add 1 tbsp. of raw mustard oil to the gravy and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Garnish with fresh coriander and sliced green chillis. Your Mustard Fish Curry or Shorshe Mach is ready to be served, with steaming hot rice.
For fish enthusiasts, this mouth-watering delicacy is a great dish to try out on a weekend. And, if you’re too lazy to cook, you may stop by at your nearest branch of the well-known chain of restaurants, ‘Oh Calcutta’ who specialize in authentic Bengali cuisine. Think, I must add that the homecooked version always wins hands down. 🙂