Thursday, February 11, 2010

Doi Maach (Fish cooked in a yogurt sauce)

A couple of years back A and I visited Calcutta for the first time. I had heard so many things that I didnt quite know what to expect. Howrah bridge, rassogollas, hand drawn carts, old world charm, mishti doi all seemed to jump out when I thought of Calcutta. But after the visit I could remember only one thing. Fish cooked the Bengali way. Wrapped in banana leaves or cooked in a yogurt based curry, And this was after tasting it at a local institution called Kewpies which was recommended by my brother in law, S who is a pastry chef. I had never had Bengali food before and after trying their thali, I was quite enamored.

Since then I had been on the lookout for a Bengali style fish curry recipe. It was only happy coincidence then that A chanced upon this amazing book "The Calcutta Kitchen" by Simon Parkes and Udit Sarkhel at our local library. I was even more excited when this book referred to Kewpies. So I had to give the doi maach recipe a try. The original recipe called for bhetki which is a sweet water fish and recommended substitutions were either cod or haddock. I couldn't find either so I used sole instead and I thought it worked quite well though being very flaky it kind of broke down in the curry. The final product was still very satisfying. Also sole has a very mild flavor so if you are not a fish eater and trying to be one, I would strongly recommend giving it a try.

1 pound skinless white fish fillet (Cod/Haddock, we used Dover Sole)
1/2 tsp salt + extra to taste
3 tsp turmeric
2 1/2 cups plain yoghurt
1 tbsp chickpea flour (besan)
1 tsp red chilli flour
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp mustard oil if available (we used regular vegetable oil)
1 large dried bayleaf
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

- Wash the fish and rub it with 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp turmeric. Set the fish aside
- Using a whisk, mix the yoghurt, chickpea flour, remaining turmeric, red chilli powder, cumin and sugar
- In a wide pan, fry the fish in a little oil on both sides. Remove and set aside
- In the same pan, add the bayleaf and onion and cook until light brown
- Add the spiced yoghurt and simmer on low heat for about 15 mins
- Arrange the fish pieces in the sauce, coat them and simmer for a few more mins
- Serve with steamed rice

Makes 4 servings


  1. It sounds yummy! Could I add mustard seeds to regular oil to substitute mustard oil?

  2. @Asha: Thanks!

    @Anonymous: Sure! You can even use vegetable oil instead of mustard oil.

  3. Rady, this is gorg! I wanted to make this as soon as I saw it and ran off to the store to get besan. Unfortunately, I could not buy just a tbsp and did not want to buy a bucket of it so my question is - can I use all purpose flour? - PR

  4. I am slowly (re)discovering how yogurt is a great gravy maker. This fish dish looks totally delicious.

  5. This sure sounds like a very delicious dish. I loved that you used dover sole here, I am always looking for some good ways to use this fish.. bookmarked!

  6. @PR: I dont think AP flour would be very a good substitute. Besan would be best!

    @indosun: thanks! I love yogurt based curries, especially kadhis!

    @PJ: thanks! I am always looking for new ways with fish too!

  7. @PR - I have a bag of besan you could borrow some from;) Also, though AP flour is probably not best, maybe Rice Flour? ( assuming you have rice flour:)