Millennials belonging to a typical middle-class Indian family would agree that even non-vegetarian households do not eat meat every day. This was partly for health reasons and partly due to economic reasons. Therefore, meat curry or fish curry was a luxury of sorts reserved for the weekend revelry.
Now, whether it was meat or fish, was decided largely based on where in India you lived. If like me you grew up in eastern India, fish would score over other kinds of meat any day. More often than not freshwater fish like rohu or catla is what we commonly had at home. As both my parents had a six-day workweek, automatically Sunday was the only day the entire family would get together for lunch. This meant it had to be a complete Indian thaali experience. The star would be this spicy, tangy tomato fish curry that my mother would prepare.
A typical Sunday would start with my father returning from his morning walk, carrying fresh fish from the local fishmongers. This was followed by a breakfast of poha, watching Rangoli (a one hour show featuring hit Hindi song numbers from the yesteryears) on the only channel telecasted those days Doordarshan. Us kids would go back to our rooms after, while my mother would get busy preparing the lunch feast. But I would always find an excuse to return to the kitchen and hover around watching her putting together one dish after the other with meticulous expertise. I would sometimes help her clean the fish or add the tempering to the hot mustard oil. It is fascinating that each time I cook this fish now it takes me back to those Sunday mornings in my parents’ house. It fills me up with nostalgia.
No matter how many times I try, I will never be half as good a cook as my mother is, but it gives me immense joy in being able to share this lip-smacking recipe with you. Do try it for a weekend lunch and if you like it, send me a silent smile 🙂
- Rohu (or any fresh water fish): 500gm
- Medium sized tomatoes- 2
- Green Chilies- 2 (or as per the desired hotness)
- Garlic-8-10 pods
- Panchforan- 1 teaspoon
- Whole yellow mustard seeds- 1 teaspoon
- Turmeric powder-2 teaspoons
- Salt-2 teaspoons or to taste
- Mustard oil for frying
- Chopped coriander leaves for garnish
- Remove the scales of the fish and cut it into desired size pieces
- Rub half a teaspoon salt all over the fish and let it sit for 2-5 minutes. This helps kill the fishy smell which some find overpowering. Wash well.
- Rub half teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon turmeric all over the fish and fry in hot oil until both sides are done. You may choose to deep or shallow fry, it doesn’t have any effect on the taste. Keep aside on a paper towel to absorb excess oil
- In a blender add tomatoes, green chilies, garlic and whole yellow mustard seeds and make a smooth paste. No need to add water as water from tomatoes would be enough.
- In the same wok used for frying the fish, add some more oil or use the leftover oil from frying. Once the oil is hot, add the panchforan and when the spices start to crackle, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the blended mixture from the set above. Add the remaining teaspoon of turmeric powder and cook the mixture on low heat, stirring continuously. The entire process would take 10-15 minutes and you would see the yellow colored mixture gradually change to red. This step is extremely important as the yellow mustard seeds if undercooked impart a bitter pungent taste to the gravy. Low heat is critical.
- Once the mixture is ready, add the fried fish and mix well for a minute and add one cup water
- Raise heat to high and bring the curry to boil, then reduce to medium-low and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes giving the spice mixture enough time to seep through the fried fish
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with a side of steamed rice, papodams and tomato-cucumber raita
Calories (per portion)- 260 Nutrition-Protein punch/Iron/Vitamin C/Iodine/Potassium/Calcium/Selenium It does wonders for your- Immunity/Muscles/Gut/Eyes/Heart/Cholesterol levels/Brain/Hair and Skin This is “My 1 pm Meal”