Bengali fish stew

Posted on June 30, 2009. Filed under: Bengali dish, Non-veg | Tags: , , , |


Preparation time: less than 30 mins

Cooking time: less than 10 mins

Ingredients :

  • 5 tbsp mustard oil (available from Asian supermarkets) or vegetable oil
  • 4 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 small bay leaves
  • 1 tsp panch phoran (a blend of equal quantities of fenugreek, nigella seeds, fennel seeds, cumin and mustard seeds), available from Asian supermarkets, also known as Bengali five-spice
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chillies, pricked with a fork
  • 2 rounded tbsp ginger paste (available from Asian supermarkets, or make your own by crushing or blending fresh ginger to a rough paste, adding water if necessary to loosen)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, blended to a paste with 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder
  • pinch paprika, optional
  • salt, to taste
  • 400ml/14fl oz water
  • 600g/1lb 5oz sea bream, cleaned, pin bones removed, flesh cut into 2.5cm/1in pieces
  • 285g/10oz basmati rice, cooked according to packet instructions, to serve

Method :

1. Heat three and a half tablespoons of the mustard oil in a small non-stick pan over a medium heat until smoking. Remove from the heat and set aside for 20-30 seconds.

2. Add the cardamom pods, cloves, bay leaves and panch phoran and fry over a low heat, stirring well, until the cumin starts to darken in colour.

3. Add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.

4. Add the green chillies, ginger paste and garlic paste and continue to cook, stirring well, for a further minute.

5. Add the powdered spices and salt and stir well to combine, then add the water. Bring the mixture to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer the mixture for 12-15 minutes, or until the volume of liquid has reduced. Set aside.

6. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a separate frying pan over a high heat, add the sea bream pieces and fry for 1-2 minutes, turning once, until the fish pieces are golden-brown on all sides.

7. Add the fish to the spice mixture, adding more water as necessary to thin the sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately with basmati rice.

Chef’s tip:

Using fish heads in your curry will really enhance the flavour. If you find them offensive at the table, just leave them in the cooking pot and serve the rest of the fish.


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