Having grown up in Assam which is a land of rivers, eating fresh-water fish has been very regular for me since childhood. During the 90s, fish sellers used to come directly at out doorstep to deliver the “catch of the day.” If you were lucky enough, you could get the best of the small bunch. The moment we heard the local fish seller announce his arrival to our lane, everyone would jump out of their houses to try their luck. Then there would be chatter on the road on whether the price is fair or not, or whether the fish is absolutely fresh. After a heated discussion, people would grab their choices and the seller would leave with an empty steel bin, filled with just water.
Pabda fish is a type of indigenous catfish that is found in ponds, swamps and paddy fields. This fish is slightly on the more expensive side when it comes to local river fish, which is why it is considered a delicacy. It is found largely in Asian countries of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and a few other South Asian countries. It tastes delicious, cooks real fast, has no scales in its body which makes it very simple to eat. Pabda fish is also very high in its nutrient value which adds to its monetary value in the market.
Prepping the Pabda fish
For this recipe, all you need to do is wash the Pabda fish thoroughly, and pat it dry with a kitchen towel. Just keep it ready this way before adding it to the gravy. This recipe does not call for frying the fish before adding it to the gravy, although it is your choice.
This recipe uses the flavor of Pabda in all its glory by gently steaming it with a fresh mustard and poppy seeds paste. I love this recipe as it is simple and also very healthy. The only work you need to do is make sure you soak the mustard seeds and the poppy seeds well in advance so that you get the best results. If you are making this for lunch, soaking it the previous night would be a good idea. This is because soaking the seeds for a longer time will help grind it faster and also eliminate bitterness.
The recipe is a great example of how simple food in the right quantities tastes the most delicious. This recipe is a must-try for any fish lover. You will be surprised to see how something so simple can taste so exotic and mindblowing!
The mustard oil shines through
As the name suggests, mustard is the second hero of this dish after the fish itself. This recipe does not involve any deep frying. So for extra flavor, there is a lot of use of cold-pressed mustard oil, which adds a beautiful color and earthiness to the gravy. So we use mustard seeds as well as mustard oil in this recipe. This is an extremely simple recipe with just a handful of ingredients. So the ones that are used are powerful and distinct in their own way.