There are several versions of the home cooked traditional fish curry from Bengal, as frankly speaking it differs from almost every household and every child (especially the son) swears by his mother’s cooking!
This one’s no different, a simple fish curry with no frills attached that promises to be soulful and full of good virtues as it is complimented with veggies. Yes, we like our fish with veggies!
In this particular fish curry, I’ve only used the long thin green aubergines, but you can use the purple ones and also add potato slices, cauliflower and potol (or parwal/ Pointed gourd).
Please don’t faint – we Bengalis don’t take jokes and raised eyebrows with our fish very well. A very touchy topic you see!
While jotting down the recipe, a typical scene from Bengal comes to my mind. Jamai Babu (son-in-law) a rather roly-poly one clad in white dhuti and kurta, black framed glasses and neatly combed middle parted hair lapping up this macher jhol that has been served on a rather stadium sized brass plate with a mountain of ‘atop chaal’ or parboiled rice.
Sorry for the digression, I just couldn’t help it , but on a serious note, this fish curry has the power to bring you back from a jet lag after a long train journey or a flight and settle you down in your usual humdrum.
I’ve fed this fish curry to several Malalyees and mind you, they’ve loved it too!
In case you’ve never tried Katla or Rahu (fresh water fish) before, you can try other boneless fish, but this fish curry is best made with our true loves – katla and rahu!
Ask your fish seller for ‘Bengali cutting’ – yes I am serious, and if he is a good fish seller, he will know what you’re talking about.
So brace yourselves as here comes the recipe for ‘Maache’r Jhol’:
- Katla/ Rahu fish pieces – 5 – 6 nos.
- Long green aubergines – 2 – 3 nos. quartered by the length
- Green chillies – 2 nos.
- Onion seeds (kalonji) – 1 and ½ tsp
- Turmeric – 1tsp
- Red chilli powder – 1stp
- Salt – to taste
- Water – as per requirement
- Mustard oil – for frying
- Lightly coat the fish pieces with salt and turmeric and set aside for at least half an hour; the longer the better.
- Heat mustard oil to smoking point in an iron wok/ kadhai.
- Shallow fry the fish until light golden brown and remove. You start with less oil and if needed add some more for frying/ cooking.
- In the same oil add the onion seeds and green chillies broken into half.
- Drop in the chopped aubergines.
- In case you’re using potatoes, then add them first as they take longer to cook. Once the potatoes are semi cooked, add the rest of the veggies such as aubergines, potol and cauliflower.
- Sauté until semi cooked and make a paste of the turmeric and red chilli powder with a little water and add it to the veggies.
- Coat well and add water for a curry/ jhol like consistency.
- Add salt and bring it to a boil.
- Check for seasoning and now gently drop the fried fish pieces in the curry.
- Bring it to a boil, cover with a lid and simmer for a few minutes to allow the gravy and the fish to get all romantic with each other.
- Serve hot with piping hot rice.
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