Bengali Macher Jhol.A light spicy fish curry perfect for summer months. For us indians, curries are year round, isn’t? Depending on the season, I switch between lighter or richer preparations and these days I am mostly making soupy tomato or yogurt based ones.
Turmeric rubbed fish steaks(I used fresh asian sea bass) shallow fried in virgin mustard oil are added to a nigella and bay leaf scented gravy which gets a kick from grassy green chillies. The flavors are so bright and different from the punjabi fish curry I grew up eating, but really perfect for the hot months.
You can use any kind of fish that you normally use for curries – salmon or carp work well. I sometimes make it with frozen baramundi or snapper fillets as well. This curry can be made in a jiffy and tastes awesome with some steamed white rice. Sometimes potatoes or eggplants are added for a nice variation and always allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes for the best flavors.
Bengali Macher Jhol
To prep the fish
- 1.5 lb (about 750g) sea bass(or rohu or salmon) cleaned and cut into steaks
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the Jhol
- 1/4 cup mustard oil
- 1/2 tsp nigella seeds
- 3 thai bird green chillies, slit
- 1/3 cup onion paste (simply grind onion in a blender using as less water as possible)
- 2 garlic cloves ,pounded in mortar pestle
- 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 medium tomato chopped
- 1 tsp fresh lime juice
- 1.5 cups hot water
- 3/4 tsp salt
- In a large bowl, add the fish, sprinkle salt and turmeric and rub on the pieces very well. Let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, add the powdered spices and mix ith 2-3 tbsp of water. Keep ready.
- Add the mustard oil to a heavy wok or kadai and let heat up till slightly smoky.
- Carefully, slide the fish into the oil and shallow fry for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from oil and place in a plate.
- In the remaining oil, crackle the bay leaf, nigella and green chillies for 30 seconds.
- Add the onion paste next and on medium heat, brown for about 3 minutes. Once browned add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute. Add the powdered spices paste next, a splash of water and fry the spices for 2-3 minutes untill you see that the oil starts seperating.
- Next add the tomato, sugar and salt and fry for 2 minutes till the tomatoes have softened.
- Add hot water to the masala and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the stove and let simmer for 2 minutes. Add the fried fish to the gravy along with any oil thats leftover in the plate in which you kept the fish. Taste and adjust the salt once.
- Let everything cook for 6-8 minutes untill the fish is cooked through. Remive from stove and mix in the lime juice. Let rest for atleast 20 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.