This is a staple fish dish, served for lunch, in Bengali homes. Every Bengali home has its own special recipe for this dish, but more or less the same principals apply. This is how my husband makes it.
This recipe is ideally for Rohu fish, but any fish can be used. In India you can get fresh Rohu fish, outside India you can get frozen ones from Bangladeshi grocery stores. We usually make this recipe with fresh fish like salmon or white flesh fishes like cod, haddock, surmai.
This recipe takes about 20 mins or so to cook.
800 gm of fish, ideally Rohu, cut into medium pieces (this quantity should yield about 8 to 10 medium pieces)
2 table spoons of poppy seeds
3 table spoon of mustard seeds
2/3 green chillies
2 table spoon of haldi/turmeric
Salt to taste
Oil to fry the fishes plus 2 table spoons for making the gravy (for a really authentic taste you can use mustard oil, vegetable or sunflower oil is fine too, what my mother does is, she cooks in a healthier oil and then pours a table spoon of mustard oil over the finished gravy, mustard oil is a tad too strong and is an acquired taste, so you can totally skip this part)
2 to 3 cups of water
Ask you fishmonger to size the fishes any way you want. If the fish pieces are too big they will break while frying or cooking, so please make sure the pieces are not too big.
Also make sure the fish scales are trimmed. In India the fishmongers usually trim the scales and leave the skin on the fish. Here in the UK the fish mongers leave the scales on fresh fish. So while buying the fish, we ask the fishmonger to take off the skin and the scales automatically go. I know lovely fish skin is sacrificed, but it is a necessary sacrifice to get rid of the yucky scales.
In a mixer grinder take the poppy seeds, mustard seeds, one green chilly, one generous pinch of salt and about 3 table spoons of water and grind it to a smooth paste. Keep the paste aside for future use.
|The masalas before and after grinding|
|Fish pieces coated with haldi/turmeric and salt and ready to be fried|
|Fried pieces of salmon, ready to go into the gravy. You can have this on its own, it is actually yummy, but for that you need to fry the fish more...an indicator is that the fish will turn deep brown over the edges...|
|The gravy bubbling away...|
|Ready to be eaten!|
Enjoy your maach er jhol with bhaat (fish curry with rice)!