March 26th is the Independence day in Bangladesh. Since I was born there, I thought I would honour it by sharing something that is very Bengali. The reason I say Bengali and not Bangladeshi, is because Bengali food traditions are shared by people of Bangladesh and Indian state of West Bengal. Most Bengali love their fish and there is an endless variety to choose from. The fish eaten in Bangladesh is mostly fresh water river fish or farmed pond fish. They can be extremely small and very large like carps. The country even has a national fish called Ilish in Bengali and Hilsha in English. Since I didn’t have an Ilish recipe to share with you today, I will share one that is on my list of favourites – Shor-puti or Silver Barb fish. If you want to learn more about the different variety of fish available in Bangladesh and Bengal in general visit this list.
Today’s recipe is called in Bengali as Shor Puti Maach Do-Peyaja. The name describes the fish and it’s cooking style, which in this case is Silver-Barb (or any other fish of your choice) Fish (Maach) in onions two-ways (dopeyaja). You can substitute many other fish for the fish I have chosen. Well without further ado, I shall get to the recipe!
Shorputi Maach Dopeyaja : Silver-Barb Fish Curry
3-4 Shorputi fish steaks (about 500-700 gm) (or use small whole ones)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp paprika or chili powder (optional)
1/4 tsp garlic paste (optional)
1 cups thinly sliced onion
3-4 tbsp onion paste
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika (if you want heat substitute with chili powder)
1/4 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tomator, chopped into small pieces
Fresh green chilies
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
salt to taste
Clean and wash the fish and drain all water. In a bowl combine the marinade ingredients and coat the fish lightly with the spice mixture. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the fish lightly on both sides. Take the fish out of the pan and set aside. Note that I only use garlic if the fish is an oily fish and has been frozen. In fact, if you have a freshly caught fish, skip this part completely.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan. You can use the same frying pan that you fried your fish in – depending on how much oil is in there, reduce it to about 2 tablespoon (you can use more of less). Add the sliced onions to the hot oil and saute them in medium heat until the onion starts to take on a light golden colour. Add the onion paste and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add garlic paste and saute for another 30 seconds. Add turmeric, paprika (or chili powder), cumin powder, coriander powder and tomato along with about 1/4 cup of water. Let the spices cook until most of the water has evaporated and oil has separated from the spices. Add salt to taste. Arrange the fish on top of the spice mixture and add another 1/4 cup of water. Cook the fish for about 2 minutes and then turn it over so that it can get infused with the same aromatic flavours of the spices. Add green chilies – whole or cut into pieces – along with the coriander leaves. Cook for another minute or two and remove from heat. You should end up with a thick gravy with your fish. Serve hot with rice with accompaniments like vegetables and daal for a complete Bengali meal. Don’t forget to eat some sweet yogurt for your dessert!