Hope you’re feeling great today. I wanted to share something really cool. It’s a recipe. I’m not a great chef but I love to cook up possibilities in my mind and execute them. If you have been following my Instagram stories, you know that I have a different take on a lot of things. This also includes cooking. Cooking, to me is an art. And like any other forms of art it needs to be explored. One doesn’t need to be a great chef to do so. The idea is to have fun. So, rest assured, this is going to be an interesting series with me experimenting and sharing recipes that my palate adores. No BS, just tasty stuff… I decided to kickstart this series with one of my favorite recipes. It’s my take on one of Bengalis’ favorite- Shorshe Bata Maachh.
Shorshe bata or mustard paste is a trademark Bengali sauce and Bengali cuisine hardly gets any better than this! A variety of fishes can be cooked using this sauce but the most popular ones are Ilish (Hilsa), Pabda and Parshe. It is one of the few Bengali fish preparations that’s great for the calorie-conscious because the fish is not deep fried. One can always up the taste quotient by adjusting the amount of oil used in this recipe.
Hand ground mustard is a rarity these days with a lot of different brands coming up with readymade mustard paste or powder. These readymade products taste good but it’s far from authentic- the typical jhaanj of mustard seeds is mostly lost in transition. For this recipe I have not hand-ground the spices because I don’t have the necessary equipments and I’m not very good at it. I soaked the spices in warm salt water for an hour and used a regular mixer grinder to take care of the bata (paste). So, let’s get cooking!
You will need:
- Fish – 4 pieces
- Cooking oil (preferably mustard oil)
- Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
- Green chillies – 5-8
- Black and yellow mustard seeds – 2 tablespoons
- Cumin seeds – 2 teaspoons
- Sukno lonka (dried red chillies) – 2 pieces
- Kalojeera (black seeds) – 1 teaspoon
- Radhuni seeds – half a teaspoon
- Black pepper – 1 teaspoon
I began by soaking the spices in a cup of warm water for about an hour. I added a little salt to it. At the same time, I marinated the fish with some salt, mustard oil and turmeric powder and set it aside for an hour.
Next, I added about half a teaspoon of kalojeera seeds to heated oil in a pan and lightly fried the fish. This step is completely optional and must be avoided if you are cooking Hilsa. I prepared the spice mixture while the fish was getting cooked on a low flame. In in mixer I added the soaked spices along with the water and a few green chillies and pulsed it till the mixture became smooth.
Then I added the spice mixture to the lightly fried fish and kept on stirring all the contents of the pan for about 5 minutes until the rawness of the spices was gone. I flipped the fishes a few times using a pair of tongs.
Just when the spices were beginning to be fully done, I added a cup of water,covered the pan and let it bubble for 8-10 minutes. Adding water is also optional if you want a thicker gravy. I also added 3-4 halved green chillies because I wanted it to be extra spicy. You can totally skip this.
To season, I added a teaspoon of mustard oil after switching off the flame. I kept the pan covered until serving.
I served the fish with hot, long grained basmati rice. It’s truly a match made in heaven. But then freshly cooked rice is a treat in itself! Rice and fish is what makes us (Bengalis) tick.
Did you like the recipe? If you cooked this, please let me know how it turned out. Also, pour in your suggestions because I’m new to cooking and I’d some tips and tricks will be extremely helpful.
Thanks for reading!