I hail from Assam, which is a state in the north-eastern part of India. Like every Indian state, Assamese cuisine is also vast and very unique. We rely on local produce and since we have a lot of rivers (the Brahmaputra being the main) and ponds, we consume a lot of freshwater fish in our diet.
If you visit an Assamese household for a meal, there will be some sort of fish for sure. We love our fish! And we make it with all kinds of vegetables and greens. Our spices are mild, yet packed with flavour.
This fish curry is made with bottle gourd, known as lau in Assam. We have a lot of other varieties of gourd back home, from the ridge gourd, white gourd, pointed gourd and so much more! I love my fish with any kind of watery vegetable, and bottle gourd is easily available in cities as well. This curry is so comforting, something I have eaten innumerable times in my life, but never gets old. Its flavor and taste always take me back home, and I cannot help but feel comforted by it.
I have used rohu fish in this curry, but you can use any fish of your choice. I have eaten and prepared the same curry with all kinds of big and small fish. The taste will vary depending on the kind of fish you use, but the steps will be the same.
I hope you try it out for yourself. Give it a chance. I promise it will grow on you.
Preparation time – 20 minutes
Cook time – 30-40 minutes
Serves – 2-3
- 500 g rohu fish
- 8 tbsp mustard oil, for frying the fish
- 2 tbsp mustard oil for the curry
- 1 tsp panchphoran
- 2 tbsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 large potato, finely chopped
- 1 small bottle gourd, finely chopped (about 300 g)
- 500 ml water
- 2 green chilies
- Chopped coriander leaves for garnish
- Salt to taste
- Wash the fish pieces thoroughly. Pat dry with a paper towel.
- Marinate the fish pieces with salt and turmeric powder. Mix really well so that every piece of the fish is well coated with these two spices.
- Heat mustard oil in a kadhai and let it come to its smoking point. Fry the marinated fish, two minutes on each side. Do not overcook the fish as it will also cook in the gravy later. Set aside. Do not throw the oil away, as it has essential flavors in it. We will use that in the gravy.
- Heat mustard oil in another kadhai or use the same kadhai to make the gravy. Once the oil is hot, add a teaspoon of panchphoran. Panchphoran is a whole spice blend that consists equal quantities of the following five whole spices – fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, and fennel seeds.
- Add the onions to the oil and fry until the onions become translucent.
- Once the onions turn brown, add the fresh ginger garlic paste to it. Saute it till the raw aroma of the ginger and garlic disappears.
- Add the chopped tomatoes to the onions and let it cook till the water releases from the tomatoes and assimilated with the rest of the gravy.
- Season with salt and cumin powder. Do not add too much salt because the fried fish will already have some.
- Stir till the tomato and onions melt.
- Since the vegetables are completely raw, add them to the tomato gravy and stir for about a minute. We would want the vegetables to be completely cooked which is why we will add some water at this point and cover and cook the vegetables like a stew.
- Cover and cook for about ten minutes in medium flame. Once done, open the lid and check if the vegetables are cooked.
- Once the potatoes and bottle gourd is soft, add the fried fish and two whole green chilies to the gravy. Add the marination here as well that you used to fry the fish. That oil will add lots of flavor to the gravy.
- Add more water, give it a gentle stir (don’t break the fish) and cover with a lid for another ten minutes. Let it boil in medium flame.
- Take the lid off, check the salt. Once done, take it off the stove. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
- Serve hot with rice!
Related recipe – Assamese chicken curry
I hope you try out this delicious and easy fish curry. Let me know what you think! And stay connected 🙂