Bengali Style Fish Curry - Macher Johl - Panch Phoron
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Bengali Style Fish Curry – Macher Johl

In Begnali “macher” means fish and “johl” means sauce or curry. This Bengali style fish curry is easier than you might think and takes really no time at all, making it a perfect midweek meal.

Mustard oil is typical to Bengali cooking so it is worth trying to get your hands on a good quality one if you can – it will add a distinctive flavour that will match the flavours of the Panch Phoron. All good Asian supermarkets will sell tamarind pulp but If you can’t get your hands on it then simply substitute it for equal parts lime juice and sugar. If you’re unlikely enough not to live near a good Asian supermarket then it is worth ordering yourself some tamarind pulp online as it is a really great ingredient that can sit in your fridge for a long time. It can be used in dressings, glazes, marinades and in curries, broths or sauces to add an addictive tang. 

Bengali Style Fish Curry - Macher Johl

Bengali Style Fish Curry – Macher Johl

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Course: Dinner, Fish & Seafood, Indian, SummerCuisine: Bengali, IndianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4-6

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes

Mustard oil is typical to Bengali cooking so it is worth trying to get your hands on a good quality one if you can – it will add a distinctive flavour that will match the flavours of the Panch Phoron.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg firm white fish fillets (such as Cod, Haddock, Hake or Pollcock) chopped into chunky pieces

  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

  • 50g desiccated coconut

  • 1 large red onion, roughly chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

  • 1 red chilli, roughly chopped (deseeded if you want less heat)

  • 1 medium-sized bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped (including stems)

  • 1 tbsp mustard oil/ vegetable oil

  • 1 tbsp Panch Phoron

  • 1 tsp ground coriander

  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • 5 fresh curry leaves or 10 dried

  • 1 tbsp tomato puree

  • 400 g tin chopped tomatoes

  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste or equal parts lime juice and brown sugar

Directions

  • Sprinkle the fish chunks with the turmeric powder, roughly coating all sides. Put aside whilst you get on with the rest of the prep.
  • In a dry pan over a medium heat, toast the coconut until golden. Watch it with a beady eye as it will catch and burn very quickly. Transfer to a bowl as soon as it is browns slightly to stop it from toasting further.
  • Add the red onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander (reserving a bit of coriander for garnishing) to a blender. Add a tiny splash of water and sprinkling of salt then blitz into a rough paste.
  • Heat a medium to large pan and add the mustard/ veg oil when hot. If using mustard oil, be sure to add it when the pan is very hot as it will help to burn off some of the bitterness in the oil. Add the Panch Phoron to the hot oil and stir fry for around 20 seconds. The seeds will pop and splutter in this time.
  • Next add the ground coriander, cumin, curry leaves, tomato puree and blitz paste that you made earlier and fry for a further 10 seconds. 
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, tamarind, toasted coconut from earlier and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and developed in flavour. 
  • Add the fish and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the cook is fully cooked through. This bit won’t take very long so be careful to not overcook the fish. 
  • Taste for seasoning and add salt accordingly. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve with basmati rice, my Bengali Tomato Chutney and pickled onions.

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