Sunday, February 10, 2013

Catfish Steaks in Fennel Seed Sauce

Mouri Bata Diye Magur Maacher Jhol

This dish was inspired by Ishani Ghosh Majumdar's recipe posted on Kitchen Raagas group in Facebook:
Ishani made this dish with climbing perch (koi maach) which is not readily available in this area. Both climbing perch and catfish are bought live from the markets in Bengal, India, and dressed by the fishmonger only after they are sold. As an alternative, I've used live catfish from the oriental store and requested the fishmonger to cut it into steaks. 

The fennel paste is made by roasting 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.

6 catfish steaks
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. Apply salt & turmeric to catfish and set aside to marinate for ½ an hour.
2. Make a paste with 1 tsp. oil, ginger paste, salt, Kashmiri mirch & 2 Tbsp. fennel powder.
3. Stir remaining 1 Tbsp. fennel powder and sugar with water and set aside.
4. In a skillet over medium-high heat, fry catfish steaks in oil and set aside.
5. In the same oil, fry fennel seeds until they sputter, then add the tomatoes.
6. Cook tomatoes with 1st batch of fennel paste until tomatoes break down.
7. Add a cup of boiling water, stir the gravy and adjust salt to taste.
8. Add fried catfish, bring gravy to a boil and add 2nd batch of fennel paste.
9. Garnish with cilantro & green chilies and serve with steamed Basmati rice.

Mung Dal with Sweet Potatoes & Carrots

Kacha Mooger Dal Shobji Diye

Every now and then, I like to have mung dal in its unroasted form. It's called 'kacha mooger dal' in Bengali  which translates to 'raw mung lentils'.  I like to add vegetables (shobji) to lentils to get more vegetables into our daily diet.


1 cup mung dal, washed and soaked in water for 1/2 hour
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 cup baby carrots, halved
2 Tbsp. extra light olive oil
1 Tbsp. ginger paste
½ tsp. shah jeera or jeera/cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 star anise
½ tsp. turmeric powder
salt to taste
½ tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ghee (clarified butter)
2-4 green chillies, slit in half
chopped cilantro

  1. Bring lentils, along with water it was soaked in, to a boil and simmer until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet and fry cinnamon stick, star anise and shah jeera until seeds sputter.
  3. Add sweet potatoes, carrots, ginger paste and turmeric.
  4. Stir everything and simmer on medium heat until vegetables are cooked.
  5. Pour cooked lentils over vegetables, add sugar, salt and 1 cup hot water and bring to a boil.
  6. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and adjust salt to taste.
  7. Garnish with ghee, green chillies and cilantro and serve with hot cooked basmati rice, naan or tortilla.