Assamese fish curries are mostly light, watery but packed with flavor. Assamese cuisine pairs a lot of locally available greens and vegetables with their fish curry preparations. This Assamese fish curry with cauliflower and potatoes is very close to my heart.
I have had this recipe an innumerable number of times in my childhood years, and I absolutely loved it every time. Delicious light gravy poured over hot steaming rice with chunks of potatoes and cauliflower was pure bliss! I miss it a lot now, but I do whip this up from time to time. My mom’s version is slightly different than mine, tastes better because her hands are magical when it comes to Assamese food. This version is delicious nonetheless and a savior on those hot summer days.
This Assamese fish curry with cauliflower and potatoes is not very challenging as the vegetables are easily available in most parts of the world. Along with the fish and the vegetables, the rest of the ingredients are pretty basic and can be easily found in an Indian pantry. And you can enjoy a delightful Assamese meal in your own house.
What I love the most about this fish curry is its simplicity. For the best results, make sure your fish is as fresh as you can get your hands on. Also, the quality of your spice mixes will create a world of a difference. I usually grind my own spices and use them in my curries. For the ginger and garlic paste, use fresh ginger and garlic and pound them in a mortar or pestle or grind them in a mixer just before you make the curry.
The key highlight of Assamese recipes is the oil that we use. Most Assamese dishes are made with cold-pressed mustard oil. The pungency and flavor that mustard oil lends to a recipe are unmatched. So make sure you have some good quality mustard oil near you for this recipe.
Cooking the fish
The fish in this curry is cooked in three phases. In the first phase, the fish is marinated with salt and turmeric powder for about ten minutes. The fish pieces are then fried in hot and smoking mustard oil till they are 80 percent cooked and are crunchy. Finally, there are added to the gravy and allowed to get into an aggressive boil with the rest of the ingredients, so that they soak in the flavors of the curry as well, but do not lose the crunch of the skin.
The biggest mistake most of us make while frying the fish is that we do not dry it well. With a wet fish, marinated with a wet batter, the fish will never turn crunchy and instead might just taste bland. So make sure you pat dry your fish pieces till they are completely dry before you marinate them. There should not be any water in them.