PABDA MACHER JHOL

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Any fresh water fish eater would know that India is abundant in carp and catfish of various types. The Ganga river and especially it’s delta  region in West Bengal is abundant in both (i.e. carps and the catfish).

Pabda is a small catfish of about 8 to 10 inches long but with an excellent taste and makes great curries. Such curries are the catch and eat versions in bengali villages. Catfish like pabda, aar, singhara etc. are very popular traditionally. With basic spices as in a common man’s kitchen, pabda makes for a wonderful delicacy besides being high in nutritional value. Remember how I shared the recipe of another small catfish delicacy called the Tangra JholTangra Jhol sometime back. Read on and then enjoy the feast !!

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 1 fish 1 treat.
  • Preparation time : 20 minutes
  • Serving size : I didn’t leave one morcel for anyone.

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Pabda fish, cleaned, 2 medium 250 grams approx. : Small sized catfish delicacy which is rich in both fried and curried forms. It is rich in nutrients and makes for a yummy delicacy.
  • Salt, 3/4th teaspoon : Use the sea salt for authenticity and it’s minerals.
  • Nigela seeds (kalonji), 1/3rd teaspoon : It’s called kalonji in Indian kitchens and is packed with antibacterials, antioxidants, anti inflammatory. It has a slight bitter, onion like flavor.
  • Turmeric Powder, 1 teaspoon : Turmeric gives a great orange color and a mild bitter taste to the pickle here. It is a wonderful antioxidant and anti inflammatory. I grow them in tubs in my backyard. They test your patience coming up, but they are amazingly pretty as a plant.
  • Cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon : Cumin has the classical earthy and nutty essence. Cumin is also extremely popular due to it’s aid to digestion, immune system, respiratory system and being a source of iron.
  • Ginger, 1 inch : Unmistakably earthy, the ginger adds the heat quotient in the dish. The gingerol in ginger is a strong anti nausea and anti inflammatory agent.
  • Coriander, 5 to 6 twigs : Again, this comes straight from my garden. Gives an orangy zest, coriander is again a blood regulator.
  • Sugar, 1 teaspoon : Sugar seems an odd combination to this curry, but believe me this just takes the fishes essence to a whole new level.
  • Green Chilies, 2, slit : Fresh green chilies from my garden add to the fresh heat and mild bitter component while adding benefits of eyes and skin.
  • Red Chili powder, 1 teaspoon : Dried red chilies have a sharper, earthier essence then the fresh green ones. They are a good source of Vitamin C, A and E hence beneficial for skin and hair.
  • Oil, light vegetable or coconut oil would be good.

….time to cook ‘n roll (preparing instructions)

  • Wash the fish and pat dry. Now season it with salt (1/3rd teaspoon), turmeric (1/3rd teaspoon) and chili powder (1/2 teaspoon) and set aside. Salt and turmeric takes away the foul smell of the fish if any. Keep aside for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, grind cumin seeds, 1 green chili and the ginger to a coarse paste.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan and fry the fish for two minutes gently turning twice for even texture. During this add 1 teaspoon salt to it. This will make the salt stick to the fish well.
  • Take off the fish from the pan and keep them aside.
  • Heat the pan with some more oil for greasing.  As the oil fumes, add the nigela seeds and fry till they crackle, which would be ideally around 30 seconds.
  • To this now add ginger and the other green chili and move around the pan till they mildly cook in around 3 minutes.
  • Add all other spices and fry them well in the pan for 2 minutes more. Do not leave them raw else you will miss the true essence.
  • Now is the time to prepare the gravy, so add 250 ml water and cook well for around 4 minutes.
  • Add the fried fish to it and cook on high heat for 5 minutes.
  • Now switch the gas off and keep the pan covered for 2 minutes further, then take off
  • Garnish with parsley chopped and serve steaming hot.

Storage : 2 small fishes can not outlast 1 sitting for sure 🙂 .

Missing Something ? : You can add daal vadi in the curry and enjoy with a homemade pesto dip  or a nice sweet homemade cherry tomato ketchup !!

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