Ironic as it sounds, since I stay in the sun kissed land of coastal India, my doctor found me acutely deficient in Vitamin D! Yes, you read it right. I have not been in the pink of health. The body aches, the joint pains, the physical weakness and accompanying exhaustion kept me out of action in general and also from blogging. My meds are on and I should be back to my regular self in a few months’ time. The vitamin D deficiency leads to low calcium absorption. So it is like a double edged sword. And apparently, it happens to be a common ailment these days since we mostly stay indoors and end up depriving our bodies of sunlight; this is especially true for Indian house wives as per my doctor, that is. I usually do not offer advice until sought but trust me, after going through those pains and aches, I vehemently advice my readers to get routine check-ups done. Better safe than sorry!
And now, to the post. Goes without saying, the hot weather clubbed with my condition, I was in a mood for a light and mild fish curry. And the Doi Maachh was what instantly popped in my mind. This fish curry is very simple and easy to cook and it has delightful subtle flavors of the whole garam masala that hold perfectly against the mild tang and sweetness of the yogurt. Feel free to dunk bread of your choice in its delicious curry or enjoy it like the Bengalis do, with a bowl of rice.
I had a recipe which I had gathered long time back but just to be sure on the authenticity of flavors, I decided to ask a couple of my Bengal friends about how they prefer to cook their Doi Maachh. And the result, my friends, was very fascinating. It was interesting to note that the cooking methods varied from family to family. One of them suggested frying the fish before adding to the curry and another told me to marinate it in the yogurt before cooking. Where on one hand I encountered the suggestion of using tomatoes, the other one believed using tomatoes in Doi Maachh was unthinkable. Yet, another input was to use nigella seeds or panch phoran. Now that I had managed to confuse myself totally in search for authenticity, I decided to go by my instinct and choice of flavors. And I suggest, you do the same. You wish to add tomatoes, go ahead, you wish to marinate the fish, do it by all means but I didn’t do either.
Another input, for authentic Doi Maachh you need to use a particular variety of fish i.e. Katla but some find it to be somewhat oily fish and swap it with Rohu. In my view, any firm white fish would do the job.
You will need the following,
500 grams Fish, cubed in 1.5 – 2 inch size (I used Katla)
2 tbsp Mustard Oil
1 small Onion, turned to paste
1 tsp Ginger Garlic paste
1 Bay Leaf
1 inch Cinnamon
1 tsp Paprika/ Degi Mirch (+/- to taste)
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Coriander Powder
Salt to taste
½ tsp Sugar
1 cup whisked Yogurt, at room temperature
Two whole Green Chillies
1 tbsp Cilantro for garnishing, chopped
Wash the fish and sprinkle the fish with a little salt. Keep aside for half a minute and wash it well. Drain the water well and smear the fish with ¼ tsp turmeric powder. Keep aside for two minutes.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non stick pan or wok and let it smoke. Reduce the flame and carefully add the fish pieces. Fry the fish pieces in batches. Fry each side for half a minute since the rest of it will cook with the curry. Drain the pieces on a kitchen towel or absorbent sheet.
In the same pan or wok, heat the rest 1 tbsp oil. Bring the oil to smoking point and reduce the heat. Carefully add the bay leaf, cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon. Once the whole spices become aromatic (it will take seconds for this to happen since the oil is really hot) carefully add the onion paste. Fry it on medium low heat for a minute. Add the ginger garlic paste with a dash of water so that it does not stick or burn in the pan. Reduce the heat to low and cook till the ginger garlic paste becomes aromatic and the whole masala is golden brown in color.
In a tablespoon or two of yogurt, add the dry spices. Mix them and add to pan along with 2 tbsp of water. Keep cooking on low heat for half a minute and then add the remaining whisked yogurt along with green chilies and sugar. Add ½ cup of water and keep stirring. Cook it for a minute and then add the fried fish pieces. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip over the fish pieces and cook for another 2 minutes. (The curry should be well assimilated and if not, cook further on for a few minutes.)
Serve hot with steamed or fried rice or bread of your choice. (do not forget to check notes at the end of the post)
Note: Add more water if you want the curry to be thinner or reduce if u like it thicker
Note: You must ensure that the yogurt is not sour else the curry will be very tangy.
Note: To enjoy the authentic flavors of Doi Maachh, I recommend using Mustard Oil.
Thanks for visiting and see you soon again!
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