Khayra Macher Jhal (Bengali Style Small Fish in Spicy Mustard Gravy)12:16 PM
Is it a shame that in spite of being a Bengali I have shared so less non-vegetarian dishes on my page? I never realized this fact till Hubby pointed it out today. Actually I don’t enjoy eating non veg much and Hubby also likes to eat them occasionally. But now a days both of us are trying to make it a regular habit as our soon to be one year old loves eating fish. Jokingly we always say that he has acquired this habit from his Mamabari (maternal uncle’s place) as my side of the family can survive on non vegetarian dishes only. They are so fond of fish and meat that if these are served to them for all four meals a day they won’t complain.
Because of the geographical location of Bengal and all the rivers surrounding it, Benaglis primarily prefer fresh or sweet water fishes. Most of our favourite fishes including carp varieties like rohu, Katla, koi or climbing perch, the small varieties from catfish family like tangra, magur, shingi, or verieties of prawns or chingŗi like Kucho or very small shrimps, Bagda or Tiger prawns and Galda or Scampi come either from rivers or are cultivated in ponds. Apart from these well known varieties small fishes like Bata, Khayra, Pabda, Punti or Mourala are among favourites. In Bangalore these special Bengali varieteies are not very easily available. Though some shops are directly getting them flied from Kolkata but those are not very fresh for which I prefer to bring some whenever am flying down from home. Most of the fishes that are sold in Bangalore come from faraway places like Mangalore, Pondicherry, Kerala or Andhra Pradesh and a large amount of these are salt water or sea fish.
The recipe that am going o share today is a macher Jhal recipe. Jhal in Bengali literally means Hot and being true to its name this dish is fiery hot with lots of green chillies so this HOT HOT dish definitely not for faint hearted. This is a semi gravy dish with Mustard paste and onion as the base and slited green chilies and nigella seeds as flavoring spices. The fishes are fried till light brown and all its parts are edible that way. Jhalmach as they are well known in Bengal is a hit at my home and any small fish or rohu/katla steaks could be cooked this way. Best enjoyed with hot steamed rice.
Khayra Macher Jhal (Small fish in Hot Mustard Gravy)
Khayra Mach/ or any small fish: 250 gms (almost 7-8 pieces); cleaned
Potato: 1 medium
Onion Paste: 21/2 tbsp
Mustard Paste: 3 tbsp
Green Chillies: 4-5 or depending on how heat you prefer;
if you want the flavor of fresh green chillies sans the heat then deseed them.
Tomato: 1 medium
Mustard Oil: 5 tbsp; and ½ tsp for pouring later.
I prefer to cook all mustard paste based dishes with this oil as this intensifies the flavor and taste. If you prefer to use any other oil then my submission would be to mix at least 1 tbsp of mustard oil to that.
I prefer to cook this dish in non stick pan. In normal pan you might need to use more oil.
Sugar: ½ tsp
Red chilli powder: ½ tsp (optional; I love the red colour so used this)
It’s better to cook the dish in a wide pan.
Wash the fishes and smear salt and turmeric. Heat the oil and fry the fishes till lightly crisp on both the sides. Keep aside.
While the fishes are frying peel the potato and cut in thin slices. Keep aside.
Now in the same oil add the green chillies and nigella seeds. (Be careful at this stage as chillies in hot oil will result in a lot of spluttering.) Once they splutter put the sliced potatoes in and fry them on low heat till soft.
Add in the onion paste and fry till oil separates at sides.
Tip in the chopped tomatoes, salt, turmeric and chilli powder if using. Again fry on low heat till the tomatoes are mushy and fat separates.
Now put in the mustard paste and fry for a minute and quickly add 11/2 cups of water.
Check the seasoning and let it come to a boil and then add the fishes one by one. Don’t put the fishes on top of each other but place them side by side.
Cover and let it simmer on low heat for 4-5 minutes then turn the side and again let cook till the gravy thickens.
Once the potatoes are cooked pour in the ½ tsp mustard oil and serve hot with steamed white rice.
Gouridi of Didibhai's Kitchen have recently posted a similar small fish curry. check it out here.