Pabda Macher Jhol


Thanx a lot for the amazing response we have to this wonderful new initiative from my loved one. Do check this out too and follow, there will surely be great posts rolling here ..

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 !!

Tangra Jhol / Tangra Fish Curry

Tangra Jhol / Tangra Fish Curry

Before we start with this one, let me introduce you all to this wonderful new initiative from my loved one. Do check this out too and follow, there will surely be great posts rolling here ..

Now that the monsoons are here in North India, the fish have started to come in rivers. Tengra or Tangra is actually Mystus Tengara. It is a very popular small-sized catfish found in Bengal and other eastern states of India. Tangra jhol is a common man’s curry in Bengal which you cannot miss if you stay in Kolkata or any other part of Bengal for over 7 days. The recipe too includes simple kitchen spices and tamarind to fork in the umami quotient. As always, you can find something unconventional here which speaks of my kitchen’s endeavors to do avoid prototypes and repeats. Do read and enjoy this fabulous treat, party on !!

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 2 for the party. 1 fish each with curry to your satisfaction.
  • Preparation time : 20 minutes
  • Serving size : 1 fish each and no less would satisfy

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Tengra Fish, 2, would be around 350 grams, cleaned well : Despite every time, I would still suggest that the fish be thoroughly cleaned  since there might be mud traces which you should not consume. Tengra or Tangra is mild in taste and aroma like most river fish. So it blends in the spices planned quite well.
  • Tamarind Paste, 1 tablespoon : Tamarind manages body heat well and helps in weight loss and heart regulation. It boosts digestion and immunity. Tamarind brings tanginess in the dish.
  • Nigela seeds, 1/2 teaspoon : It’s called kalonji in Indian kitchens and is packed with antibacterials, antioxidants, anti inflammatory. It has a slight bitter, onion like flavor.
  • Cumin seeds, 1/2 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.
  • Dry Mango Powder, Amchoor, 1/2 teaspoon : Amchoor is a sour, fruity spice which is a good antacid and antioxidant. I add it here since the kids would love anything with amchoor in it.
  • Table Salt, 1/2 teaspoon or to taste : Salt hydrates the dish and hence the body and table salt has a balance of sodium and potassium which in turn improves sleep and aids the nervous system.
  • Mustard Oil, 2 tablespoon : This extremely pungent oil is a great source of Omega 3 and Vitamin E hence great for your skin and hair. Besides in kitchen, mustard oil is the most popular oil across the globe for body and hair massages. 

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

  • Coat the fish in half the salt and tamarind and keep aside for 15 minutes.
  • Now heat a skillet with 2 tablespoon mustard oil. Fry the fish on high for 3 minutes and then lower the flame.
  • Now add 2 cups water to it and mix well. Cook on medium for 2 minutes more.
  • Sprinkle the amchoor powder and mix well. Now cook for 5 minutes more or till the curry thickens to your desired level. I wanted to eat it for a sunday morning so I thickened the gravy to a sauce.

Storage : Avoid please.

Missing Something ? : You may add chopped green chilies if you so desire !!

Best Bengali Fish Recipe

Bhapa Ilish / Steamed Hilsa Fish Curry

One thing absolutely fascinates me about bengali food is to prepare a delicacy out of simplest of things and by the simplest of means. This steamed hilsa fish recipe is legendary. Hilsa or Ilish as it is popular in bengal and bangladesh is a herring specie. In fact it is the national fish of Bangladesh and rampantly flourishes in the Ganga delta called the Sundarbans. Ilish has hard and tough bones and is oily in texture. It is a great weekend lunch or a slowly cherished dinner delicacy best enjoyed with steamed rice which being bland further enhances the flavor of the fish. 

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 4 (with rice)
  • Preparation time : 30 minutes cooking + 2 hours marinate
  • Serving size : 2 – 3 pieces each

….and we need (ingredient)

  • Hilsa Fish or Ilish Maach (Bengali cut) 750 grams : Your vendor will do the bengali cut for you. Hilsa is oily, rich in omega 3 fatty acids. You need to savour it yourself to understand why it is a bengali obsession.
  • Mustard seeds 2 teaspoon (1 teaspoon yellow + 1 teaspoon black i.e. rai) : The sputtering of mustard seeds adds an aroma of mild roast to the dish.
  • Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon (1/2 for marinade + 1/2 for cooking) : Turmeric blends best in most Indian fish cuisine. It is a great compliment to mustard and fish and helps in detoxification too.
  • Green Chillies 2 to 3 : What’s a pungent fish without the heat and the Vitamin E of green chillies !
  • Ginger 1 inch cut piece : This brings the natural hot zest flavor to the dish. It is also a muscle relaxant and prevents nausea and inflammation.
  • Mustard Oil 2 1/2 tablespoon : Mustard oil is a natural choice for pungent cooking. This is also high in Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Salt to taste : I use moderate salt to not overpower the pungency of mustard which is most critical.

….time to cook ‘n roll cooking instructions)

  • Marinate the fish with 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and salt. Keep aside for 2 hours.
  • Grind the mustard seeds (both black and yellow), chillies and ginger coarsely.
  • Now boil 3 cups water in a heavy bottomed pan.
  • Place the fish in it and cook on medium flame till water reduces to half.
  • Now add the ground paste to it and mix well such that all of it goes deep and well into the fish. Now cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add mustard oil and turmeric to this now and steam covered for 20 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes check whether the fish is cooked well or not. If done then take off and serve hot with rice.

Storage : Can be refrigerated for 1 week easily but do not re-heat more than 1 to 2 time since the fish itself has lots of oils in it which will get spoiled and the fish will loose its texture.

Missing Something ? : Nothing can be changed in this, there are just too few ingredients to rethink. Only iteration allowed is probably using just yellow mustard instead of both yellow and black.