Over the years, I have changed this recipe a lot from how mom used to make it. When one of our neighbors gave it to her some 8-9 years back, in the most unexpected way we embraced it in our cooking and more so instantly loved it just because it broke the monotony of the 'only' fish curryÂ that we had been eating all the while.
In India a lot of exchange of food and gossip happens with neighbors.This aunty (as we fondly call anybody other than family back there),her house eternally smelled of cakes and good food but this recipe is one of the best things that she shared with us. Instantly, the blend hit the hot, virgin mustard oil, a loud sizzle, and boom, the sharp aroma choked up all your senses along with the piquancy of turmeric and fenugreek.
I remember how growing up we would not eat much of seafood from April to August since these summer months were categorized as the breeding season, quite contrary to here in the States when essentially seafood is labelled as 'summer foods. A couple of weeks back I visited our asian seafood store after a gap of year or so and could not help but gorge on the vast choices available - crabs, shellfish, live lobster and what not. I really can't tell you why this place is one of my favorite,the fact that I can get the freshest black pomfret and indian mackerel here - cut and cleaned 'my' way or because of the produce which I do not find in my regular grocery store - taro root, banana leaves, bitter melon squash. Not to forget - fresh jackfruit and lychees!
I bought home fresh tilapia thinking about this curry all the way. With the temperature hitting over 110 degrees F in my part of the world as the Independence day approaches, I could not think of an easy and light meal than this one.
You might try to find an east indian influence in the recipe but sadly it will disappoint you. The use of yogurt lends this quick recipe the right amount of tart, acidic profile to balance the piquancy of mustard and nigella. I do not deep fry the fish even though that is how it should be done.
Mustard Fish Curry
- 1 lb fish 4-5 steaks,I used barramundi
- 1 teaspoon mustard oil
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon oil
To Make Mustard Paste
- 1.25 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
- ¼ teaspoon nigella seeds
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon mustard oil
- 2 tablespoon plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoon coconut I use desiccated use fresh if you wish
- 2 green chillies
- 2-3 tablespoon water
For The Curry
- 3 tablespoon mustard oil or cooking oil
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
- 2 green chillies slit
- ⅛ teaspoon sugar
- 1-1.5 cup hot water depending on the sauce consistency you desire
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Clean the fish. Pat dry with a paper towel and rub with 1 teaspoon mustard oil and turmeric. Set in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Add all the listed ingredients for the mustard paste to a small grinder jar and grind to a paste. Add 2-3 tablespoon water or as needed but dont make a runny paste.
- In kadai or cooking pot, heat up the 2 tablespoon oil on medium. Place the marinated fish steaks on the pan and sear both the sides of the steak.About 2 minutes on each side (this time will depend on the variety and thickness of your fish). Transfer to a plate.
- Add another tablespoon of oil and reduce the heat to low, wait for a minute and temper the hot oil with fenugreek seeds and green chillies. Let crackle for 5-7 seconds.
- Next, reduce heat to low and very carefully add the ground mustard paste. Also add the red chilli powder. While adding to hot oil, the paste will splutter a lot so be careful. Cook the paste on low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Add the pan fried fish along with the drippings in the pan if any. Also add the sugar. Add 1 cup hot water.
- Cover and simmer till the fish is done. About 5-8 minutes. Serve warm with steamed rice.