Maachher Jhol (Fish Stew)

Hello friends. Last evening i was a bit too lazy but wanted to avoid eating out. I had to prepare dinner but something which is very quick & easy. And that s how Macher Jhol. Fish is called Maachh in Bengali & jhol stands for stew. So this is a traditional Bengali fish stew. It may have many versions that many grandmothers & great grandmothers left behind. Back home mustard oil is used for the preparation however being bought up in Mumbai (And not kolkata), I can very much do with vegetable oil. Some people like to use potato, aubergine, cauliflower in this fish stew. I prefer potato’s only. This soupy fish stew is served with steamed rice. Ideally fresh water fish like Ilish/Hilsa, Rohu/Labeo Rohita (from carp family), Catla (again from carp family) are prefered for this stew. However try this with your favourite fish I don’t think you can go wrong. I used black Pomfret’s this time. So here is the recipe.

In here, fish will be first marinated & shallow fried. Shallow frying will seal the fish & protect it from breaking easily when put in the stew.

Fish (500 grams) – Rohu, Catla, Ilish or anything you like (I used black Pomfret’s)
Potato – 2 medium-sized. Cut into long quarters.
Turmeric – 3 teaspoon
Salt – to taste
Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Nigella seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Ginger (grated) – 1 heaped tablespoon
Green Chilies – 2 small chopped
Tomato pulp – 1/2 cup. (To get this you will need two medium tomatoes. Cut the eye off & grate it with your cheese grater. YOu will get the pulp & skin will be left behind. Just discard the skin)
Red Chili powder – 1 and 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder – 1 and 1/2 teaspoon
Vegetable oil – enough for shallow frying.
Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
Coriander leaves (cilantro) – Handful of it chopped.

Step One

Wash the fish & drain the water. If you still see too much water then put in another bowl & give them a kitchen towel wipe & pat them dry. If you have managed to drain the water thoroughly then you can skip this step as i do. Now marinate the fish with 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric & salt (to taste). If you are using any vegetables marinate them in the same bowl with the fish. I marinated the potato in this case.

Step Two
Heat oil & shallow fry the fish & potato. You need to fry the fish only until sealed. And potato needs to be taken out of the pan when it has a golden brown crisp upper crust formed. Keep the fish and potato aside.

Step Three
Take another pan. Add 2 tablespoon of oil (can be taken from the same oil you used for frying fish) & heat it. Do not over heat thought. Keep the flame low. Add cumming seeds and Nigella seeds to the pan. As they are crackling add grated ginger with chopped green chilies & saute for few minutes. Now add tomato pulp to the pan & put the flame on high and continue stirring. Add salt to taste at this stage. In a few minutes the fluid from tomato will start drying up & the oil will start surfacing. Turn the flame on low & now add remaining turmeric, chilli powder & corriander powder. You can add a few tablespoon of water at this stage to avoid the dry spices from burning. take a few minutes to cook the spices & then add 2 cups of water & bring it to boil.

Step Four

Drop in the fish & pototo & cover the pan. Let it simmer on slow-medium flame for 10 – 12 minutes. Now add chopped cilantro & lemon juice, Cover the pan & turn down the flame. Leave it covered for another 5 minutes for the cilantro to release its aroma in the stew. Now its ready to be served with steamed rice.

Whats your favourite fish preparation?

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