Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Climbing Perch (Koi Maach) in Fennel Seed Sauce

Mouri Bata Diye Koi Maacher Jhol

This dish was inspired by Ishani Ghosh Majumdar's recipe posted on Kitchen Raagas group in Facebook.

Tilapia Fillets in Fennel Seed Sauce
I have also made this same recipe using tilapia fillets.

Catfish Steaks in Fennel Seed Sauce uses the very same ingredients with just a few differences.  The gravy is much thicker in this dish and I've used climbing perch here instead of catfish.

This fish, also known as Koi Maach in Bengali, is purchased live in India and is well-known for its recuperative qualities. In the U.S. and in Michigan in particular, we have no option but to buy frozen climbing perch which is sometimes available in some Oriental and Indian grocery stores. Although the flavour of the live fish is far superior to the frozen variety, it is still a good alternative to using other species of fish, such as catfish or tilapia.

Fennel seed powder is made by toasting fennel seeds in a dry skillet until their aroma is released, taking care not to brown them. Once cooled, the fennel seeds are ground to a fine powder in a coffee grinder that has been reserved specifically for grinding spices.  

After each use, the spice grinder is whirred with baking powder to clean it and remove all aromas.

1 lb. climbing perch, cleaned and gutted
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. fennel seeds
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. ginger paste
½ tsp. turmeric
1 Tbsp. Kashmiri mirch or chili powder
2 + 1 Tbsp. fennel seeds, roasted and ground to a fine powder
½ tsp. sugar
salt to taste
4 green chilies, slit
chopped cilantro

1.  Wash fish well and make two slanted slits on each side of each fish between the head and tail. This allows the sauce to penetrate to the center.
2.  Apply salt & turmeric to fish and marinate for half an hour.
3.  Make a paste with 1 tsp. oil, ginger paste, salt, Kashmiri mirch & 2 Tbsp. fennel powder.
4.  Stir remaining 1 Tbsp. fennel powder and sugar with 2 Tbsp. water and set aside.
5.  In a skillet over medium-high heat, fry fish in oil on both sides and set aside.
6.  In the same oil, fry fennel seeds until they sputter, then add the tomatoes.
7.  Cook tomatoes with 1st batch of fennel seed paste until tomatoes break down.
8.  Add a cup of boiling water in 4 batches, stirring well after each addition.
9.  Adjust salt to taste, add fried fish, cover and cook for 5 minutes. 
10. Turn fish over and cook for another 5 minutes.
11. Add 2nd batch of fennel seed paste and stir gravy gently without disturbing the fish.
12. Garnish with cilantro & green chilies and serve with steamed Basmati rice.


  1. Hey Chumkie,Will surely try this one.Promises to be great dish. Thanx .Will let you know.


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