Back to Bengalis favorite dish – fish ! Pabda is one of the many sweet water fishes that Bengalis love to eat. It’s a very delicate fish, known as Pabo Catfish in English. I am not a big fish fan, but both my son and husband love fish like anything, more than chicken or mutton. We generally don’t prefer to cook any frozen fish, but exception is always made in some special occasions. Sometimes there is no choice because here you would get only frozen pabda in some Bangladeshi stores. Last week I cooked this dish for my hubby's Birthday lunch menu.
It' s a spicy Bengali fish curry, cooked in mustard gravy that is 'Sarshe jhal' in Bengali. The other preparation of this fish "pabda Mach r kalo jeere diye jhol" is also our favorite. Following the same recipe, you can cook many other sweet water fishes too. The fish is very soft so you should be very careful while handling the fish.
Recipe of Pabda Macher Sarshe Jhal ( Pabda fish cooked in Mustard gravy ) for 4-5 people
1. Pabda Mach medium sized - 4-5 whole pieces.
2. Kalo jeer e ( nigella seeds) - 1/2 tsp
3. Green chilies - 2-3 or as per the taste
4. Yellow mustard seeds - 2 tsp
5. Coriander powder -1 tsp
6. Red Chili powder - 1/2 tsp or optional
7. Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
8. Salt -
9. Tomato - 1 small
10. Ginger paste - 1/2 tsp
11. Onion paste - 1 tsp
12. Cilantro - few (chopped)
13. Mustard oil - 4-5 tbsp
1. Clean and wash the fishes and pat dry. Sprinkle salt and turmeric powder and smear them.
2. After a short marination like 10 to 15 minutes, in a big pan, heat the mustard oil. Once it gets smoky, fry the fishes on both side, very carefully and keep them aside.
3. Take the mustard seeds, one green chili and few tbsp water in a blender and make a paste. While you will make this paste, don't over run the blender since it would result in bitter taste of mustard paste.
4. In the same pan, add some oil again and wait till it starts to smoke. Add kalo jeere / nigella seeds and green chilies.
5. Once it starts splattering, add the onion paste. Cook it until the color changes to light brown.
6. Add ginger paste and stir it till raw smell goes off. Now make a paste of coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder with 2 tbsp of water. Add this paste to the pan.
7. Keep stirring till oil separates and add chopped tomato pieces. Add salt. Once tomato becomes soft, add the mustard paste. Stir it and mix it nicely. In few minutes, add half cup of water. Let it boil.
8. When gravy starts to boil, add the fried fishes. Cover it and let it cook for 7 to 10 minutes. Check the seasoning and the consistency.
9. Add the chopped cilantro ( optional ) and few drops of mustard oil. Add some green chilies if needed. "Pabda Mach r Sarshe Jhal" is ready. Serve hot with steamed rice.
Note : You can use any fish of your choice in the place of Pabda, and make Fish curry in spicy mustard sauce, following the same recipe.