Friday, February 05, 2016

Parshey Maach-er Jhaal or Mullet in Mustard Gravy

Parshey Maach-er Jhaal

Fish is a staple in Bengali households. For those who can afford it, a Bengali has four meals a day: breakfast, lunch, tea & snacks and dinner. Lunch and dinner comprise at least 3 dishes consisting of vegetables, lentils and meat, poultry, fish, shrimp or seafood, accompanied by rice or rootis/chapatis. 

White mullet or parshey maach is a sweet and delicious fish that requires a light touch because it breaks apart easily. This preparation, therefore, is ideal because it doesn't require too much stirring. In fact, it is even easier if the fish is combined with the rest of the ingredients (except for the mustard oil and cilantro used for garnishing) and simply slid into hot oil which has been sputtered with nigella seeds, covered and simmered over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes.

To add more heat to this fish dish, reserve a few slit green chilies to garnish before serving.

6 whole white mullet, scaled and gutted
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
salt to taste
green chilies to taste, stems removed
3 + 1 Tbsp. mustard oil (or vegetable oil)
1 tsp. nigella/kalonji seeds
2 tsp. black mustard seeds, soaked in salted water for 1/2 hour or more
1 large tomato, diced
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1/4 cup diced cilantro, rinsed and drained
Juice of 1/4 lime

  1. Smear mullet with turmeric and salt to taste and set aside for half an hour.
  2. Drain mustard seeds and blend with green chilies and 1/2 tsp. salt until smooth.
  3. Stir lime juice into blended mustard and set aside.
  4. Heat oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers and sputter nigella seeds.
  5. Add onions in an even layer, place fish on them and fry for 2 minutes or until golden-brown.
  6. Turn fish over and repeat on the other side.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low, scatter diced tomatoes over fish, cover and simmer until tomatoes disintegrate.
  8. Pour blended mustard over fish and tomatoes, shake pan to distribute sauce evenly, cover and simmer for a further five minutes.
  9. Adjust salt to taste and garnish with 1 Tbsp. mustard oil, cilantro and sliced green chilies. 
Serve with steamed Basmati rice as a main course.

Note: Pay special attention to the fish bones, which could be small and sharp.


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