This is one fish dish which I am sure you will relish in summers. This recipe is one of the authentic recipes from the state of West Bengal (India), which happens to be my place of origin. The Bengalis (people from West Bengal) are considered as the most avid fish eaters in India and I am proud to be one of them!
The lightness of the dish is its specialty. Drumsticks add a special flavour (Don’t confuse with the chicken drumsticks; drumsticks referred to here is a vegetable.). If drumsticks are not available in your country, you can very well carry on the same recipe with French beans or even asparagus spears!
So you have to peel the hard skin of the long, green drumsticks very carefully and cut them into medium sized pieces. The fish which works the best here is carp. In India, we use the fish called catla. The fish pieces (with bones) need to be marinated in turmeric powder and salt for atleast half an hour and have to be shallow fried in mustard oil over medium flame till golden on both sides: the two golden rules adopted while cooking fish in Bengali style. Now, the mustard oil has a distinctive strong smell. However, some people find the taste and smell of mustard oil to be rather pungent, if that is the case with you, you can go ahead with any edible oil on earth, except coconut oil.
Bengali Fish Broth with Drumsticks and Potatoes
- Carp, cut into big pieces, with bones intact: 4-5 pieces
- Drumsticks, thin: 5
- Small potatoes, boiled and deskinned: 7-8
- Salt: ½ tsp for fish marination and 1 tsp for cooking
- Turmeric powder: ½ tsp for fish marination and ½ tsp for cooking
- Mustard oil: 7 tbsp
- 1 inch piece ginger paste
- Tomato: 1
- Green chillies: 3
- Cumin seeds: ½ tsp
- Coriander powder: 1tsp
- Cumin powder: 1tsp
- Water: 1½ cups + ¼ cup warm water
Method of Preparation:
First, shallow fry the fish pieces in 4 tbsp mustard oil, marinated for half an hour with turmeric powder and salt (½ tsp each). Fry each side till these become golden brown, as shown below.
In a skillet, add 3 tbsp of mustard oil. When it starts to smoke, reduce the flame to medium and add the cumin seeds and wait till the seeds become brown. Immediately add the drumsticks and stir for 5 minutes.
Add the boiled potatoes and continue frying with ½ tsp turmeric and 1 tsp salt, till you see that these have started getting light brown marks on them. Cook the mixture with the diced tomatoes and chillies.
Add the ginger paste and the coriander and cumin powders dissolved in ¼ cup warm water and stir into the contents in the skillet. Sprinkle water occasionally, so that the powders do not get burnt.
After you see that the powders start leaving oil in the skillet and the tomatoes become very soft, add the fish pieces and cook for another 5 minutes. It is time to add the water and check for the salt. Boil for 15 minutes over medium heat, covered. You can garnish with chopped coriander leaves (optional). The traditional Bengali dish is ready to be served with steamed rice!
Variations: You can add vegetables like cauliflower and ridge gourd (turai in Hindi) into this preparation too.
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