This wonderfully light and fragrant dish of fish cooked in yoghurt is considered a masterpiece of northern Indian cuisine. Regional differences can be quite marked: in Bangladesh (once East Bengal), you are likely to enjoy a spicier version, whereas West Bengalis like theirs a little sweeter.
- 3 onions
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped ginger
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (see Note)
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 280 g (1 cup) Greek-style yoghurt
- 4 x 2 cm-thick Spanish mackerel cutlets (about 1 kg)
- 100 ml mustard oil
- 4 green cardamom pods, crushed
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 small cinnamon quill
- 1 bay leaf
- 125 ml (½ cup) chicken stock or water
- steamed basmati rice, thinly sliced long green chillies, coriander leaves and lemon slices, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time 2 hours
Roughly chop 1 onion, then place in a food processor with garlic, ginger, chilli powder and turmeric, and process to a smooth paste. Add yoghurt and process to combine. Pour into a bowl and add fish, tossing to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, thinly slice remaining 2 onions. Heat mustard oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, spices and bay leaf and cook, stirring, for 20 minutes or until onion is dark golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onion and spices to a bowl and set aside, reserving pan and as much oil as possible.
Remove fish from marinade, scraping as much marinade from the fish as possible. Reserve marinade. Reheat oil in pan over medium heat. Add fish in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes or until golden. Turn fish over, add reserved marinade and half the stock, then bring to a gentle simmer. Cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes, adding extra stock as necessary, until fish is just cooked.
Serve fish over steamed rice topped with onion, chilli, coriander and lemon slices.
• Kashmiri chilli powder is available from Indian food shops. Substitute chilli powder.
Photography Brett Stevens. Food preparation Leanne Kitchen. Styling Vivien Walsh.
As seen in Feast magazine, November 2014, Issue 37.