KELE KI ‘MACHHLI’ – केले की ‘मछ्ली’ (Green Banana ‘Fish’ Curry)

It’s not only the season for baking, it is also time for stirring pot of hearty curries and soups. Therefore I thought of sharing this vegan fish curry that I learnt last year while I was in Delhi during the lockdown. Why vegan you ask? It is because of the appearance, texture and somewhat the taste that makes it come close to having a fish curry.

The two and half month time that I spent at Delhi with my in-laws, during the lockdown, helped me learn a couple of interesting dishes from my mother-in-law. One was a breakfast dish from the state of Jharkhand, called Dhuska which are deep fried kind of thick pancakes made with lentils and mostly served with a curry; usually kala chana but we enjoyed it with potatoes (check my IG stories for it) And the other was this curry made with raw green bananas.

The name of this dish is an absolute misnomer. It is a curry that is made using the raw green unripe bananas, sliced in a manner that resembles a fish slice and then cooked in a fashion that is close to how a fish curry is made i.e. in yellow mustard based paste. This tangy and spicy banana curry is finger licking good stuff and is best served with hot steamed rice. I have yet to try it in a curry made of onions and tomatoes, but my guess it would taste equally good and go well with flatbreads like roti, naan or even missi roti.

For Marinade

250 gm Raw Green Bananas (unpeeled weight)

1 tsp Lime Juice

¼ tsp Turmeric Powder / Haldi

¼ tsp Red Chilli Powder / Lal Mirch

½ tsp Ginger Garlic Paste

Salt to taste

A pinch of Carom seeds / Ajwain

1 tbsp Chickpea Flour / Besan

Oil for Shallow Frying

For Paste

¼ tsp Cumin Seeds / Jeera

10 – 12 Black Pepper Corns

1 tbsp + 1 tsp Yellow Mustard

1 – 2 Green Chilli (mine was very hot therefore one sufficed)

1½ tsp Ginger Garlic Paste

100 gm Tomato, pureed

For curry

2½ tbsp. Mustard Oil, preferably (else any oil of your choice)

¼ tsp Nigella Seeds / Kalonji

¼ tsp Fenugreen Seeds / Methi Dana

½ tsp Black Mustard Seeds / Kali Sarson

1 tsp Coriander Powder / Dhaniya Powder

1/3 – ½ tsp Paprika / Degi Mirch (adjust heat to taste)

½ Turmeric Powder / Haldi

Salt to taste (I used ½ tsp)

1 tsp finely chopped, Fresh Coriander / Dhaniya Patta

To Serve

Steamed Rice

Take a bowl and fill it half with water. (You need to dip the peeled and sliced bananas in water to prevent them from turning dark)

Prep the bananas by trimming off both the ends and then peeling off the thick outer green skin. Wash the bananas and slice in them in two horizontal halves. Now place the bananas on a chopping board and make the banana stand on the chopped side. Slice the bananas vertically in three thick slices. Transfer immediately in the bowl of water. Keep them soaked for two minutes and then drain the water.

Transfer the banana slices in a mixing bowl and drizzle and rub the slices with lime juice (use more if required) to prevent them from blackening. Set aside while you prep the marinade.

Mix together the ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, chili powder and salt. Mix well and rub this mixture to the banana slices. Now sprinkle the chickpea flour and mix everything with your hands so that the banana slices are coated well with the marinade. Set aside the bowl for 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat some oil (I used smoked mustard oil) in a shallow pan and fry the marinated banana slices in batches till they turn golden brown. Remove on an absorbent tissue and set aside.

For making the paste, grind together the yellow mustard seeds, black pepper corns, cumin seeds, green chili, ginger garlic paste and a couple of tablespoons of water to attain a smooth paste. (I most turn the spices to powder and then add the wet ingredients and pulse everything together) Decant the contents in a bowl. Ensure that the paste is not too thick or thin. It should of the consistency of tomato sauce.

To make the curry, heat the oil in a frying pan or kadahi (wok) and add the whole spices to it i.e. the nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds and black mustard seeds. Allow them to crackle and then add the paste.

Fry the paste on medium heat stirring continuously, to prevent it from catching at the bottom, till the paste turn golden brown. Add two to three tablespoons of water and again fry the paste turns golden brown.

Reduce heat and add coriander powder, degi mirch, turmeric powder and salt. Stir well and fry for 10 – 15 seconds.

Add the pureed tomatoes and increase the heat to maximum and fry the contents till the tomatoes are cooked and the masala released oil.

Reduce the heat and add half a cup of water and stir till there are no lumps. Add one cup more of water and bring the contents to boil.

Add the fried banana slices and reduce heat to minimum. Cover the pan or wok with a lid and allow the contents to simmer for five minutes.

Switch off the heat and keep the contents covered for another five minutes. Remove lid and stir in half the chopped fresh coriander and garnish rest while serving.

Serve hot with steamed rice, slice onions or pickled onions.

Serves – 3

Note – Do remember that the fish and the paste, both have been seasoned therefore go easy on salt and chili. Also remember that there is black pepper, green chili and also red chili added to the curry. So adjust the heat to taste.

Thank you for your visit and see you soon again with another exciting recipe! 

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