Some years back, I had gone to Shimla with my parents and younger sister, who had just got promoted to first standard. 3 days we stayed at the Hotel Oberoi Cecil in Shimla. The gorgeous hotel with its lavish spread, I was in love with the hotel. But, from the second day onwards my kid sister started craving for ma-er macher jhol (fish curry – mom’s style). So much so that on the second day she entered the kitchen and went to the chef asking to prepare a fish curry with potatoes. And, there from the Oberoi kitchen came out, which nobody expected – a fish curry similar to what mom always cooks at home.
I later reasoned that she asked for that non spicy fish curry which was familiar. This happens to almost all of us. A Bengali staying in New York will surely know the address of the nearest Bengali restaurant.
At home, back in Kolkata, a summer lunch always consist of shukto, dal and fries, a vegetable curry and of course a non vegetarian gravy dish that might include fish, egg or meat, but preferably fish. The fish in most days is prepared with the minimum amount of spices keeping in mind the hot and humid weather of the Tropics.
The mom made fish curry is something that can’t be matched with anything on earth. Whether you visit one of the finest fine-dining or the neighborhood restaurant, I have never found any restaurant providing with the typical daily meals.
I have visited Bengali restaurants in Bangalore from Oh! Calcutta, St. Mark’s Road to Bangaliana, Koramangala just in search of that typical rui mahcer jhol (rohu curry) with lots of vegetables. But, never did I find it. So, here am back to my kitchen trying to reproduce mom’s style fish curry. Click on this link for more such authentic Bengali recipe.
Preparation time 10min
Cooking time 12-15 min
4 fillets of rohu or catla (fresh water fishes)
1 six-inch ridge gourd
1 medium potato
4-5 florets of cauliflower
2-3 pointed gourd
1 teaspoon nigella/kalonji
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 bay leaves
Salt to taste
Few sprigs of coriander leaves (optional)
Cut all the vegetables longitudinally, wash, mix with little turmeric powder and salt
Heat about 2 tablespoon of oil in a wok and toss the vegetables till lightly fried, keep aside
Wash the fish fillets well, and mix them with turmeric and salt. Drain out the extra water
Pour in another 2 tablespoon of oil in the wok and as the oil get piping hot fry the fish fillets till the fish is soft and tender
Add all the spices except nigella in a bowl and mix with water to make a smooth mixture
Take in 1 tablespoon of fresh mustard oil in the wok, throw in the nigella and bay leaves
As the spices start sputtering pour in the spice mixture and little water
Stir well till the oil separates
Add the vegetables and mix with the spices
Toss for a little while (1-2 mins) and pour in about 2 cups of water
As the vegetables get almost cooked add the fried fishes and cook till the gravy sips inside the fish
Serve garnished with coriander with warm white rice
Hot Tips – You can use bhetki instead of rohu or catla for the same preparation. The shape of vegetables has a good percentage in deciding the taste and texture of this fish curry. So, while chopping the veggies keep in mind to slice them to almost same sizes.
I have used four different vegetables in this rohu curry, if you don’t get all of these you can just use a combination of any of the four.