Monday, April 19, 2010

Maacher Jhol - Everyday Fish Curry!

It’s a well established fact on this blog that my sister hates fish or rather hated; she has miraculously developed a taste for it after child birth. It’s also been established that my mother is an amazing convincer – that woman has some serious story telling talent. Every afternoon, I would listen to the outlandish stories Ma would tell Didi to make her eat fish and rice, Bongs’ staple food. However they may have started, every conversation ended with Didi’s frustrated shriek, “Everyday fish curry!”

The fish that we were fed most days of the week was cooked in light gravy with seasonal vegetables like eggplants and potatoes in summer and cauliflower and green peas in winter. If anyone in the family or had loosies she’s add green plantain. Ma still cooks this fish curry almost every day with a wide variety of fish though Rohu, an Indian carp is her preferred one. Here since in the Indian grocery store freezers, I usually find Rohu that has been frozen for at least a year; I usually make it with fresh Tilapia or Pomfret.

Maacher Jhol


Fish(Rohu/Tilapia/Pomfret/Surma/Chara pona or baby Rohu) – 1lb either cut in steaks or fillets (chara pona is cooked whole)

Potatoes – 1large or two medium cut in wedges

Cauliflower – 1/2 medium cut into large florets

Green peas – 1/2 cup shelled

Tomatoes – 1 cup chopped

Ginger paste – 1tbsp

Cumin seeds – 1tsp

Asafetida – 1 large pinch

Whole red chili - 2

Green chili – 3-4 slit (or according to taste)

Cumin powder – 1tbsp

Coriander powder – ½ tbsp

Red chili powder – 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder – 1 tbsp to marinate fish + ¼ tbsp for curry

Cilantro – ½ bunch chopped


Oil – mustard oil would be the best but Canola/ Vegetable oil will do (Don’t use olive oil since the fish has to be fried and olive oil burns very easily)


  • Thaw fish pieces and pat dry with paper towel. Rub fish steaks/fillets with turmeric powder, salt and very little oil.
  • Shallow fry cauliflower and potatoes separately. Alternately, bake the vegetables with little oil to al dente. (I however steam cauliflower florets until tender and use boiled potatoes; Ma faints) Keep aside.
  • Deep fry the fish pieces in a heavy bottom pan in smoking hot oil. You have to fry them in a good amount of oil which you’ll have to throw away later but if you try to fry them in less oil the pieces will stick stubbornly to the pan. I use a small pan and fry a single fillet or two steaks at a time to waste less oil. Keep aside.
  • Make a paste with the ginger paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and red chili powder.
  • Heat 1tbsp of oil in another heavy bottom pan. When the oil is ready add asafetida, cumin seeds and whole red chilis. Let the spices brown then add the spices and ginger paste. Sauté the masala for three minutes adding little water at a time whenever the masala starts sticking to the pan.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and sauté until the tomatoes turn mushy and oil starts seeping around the edges of the gravy.
  • Add the green peas and water and salt. Let the gravy come to a boil. Reduce heat and cook covered on medium heat until peas are tender.
  • Add potatoes, cauliflower and fish pieces and allow the gravy to come to a rolling boil. Turn off heat and garnish with chopped cilantro.
  • Enjoy with steamed rice.

Serves - 4


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