Recipe courtesy of Afelia's Kitchen
The idea of this fish curry is basically like any other; you may replace the watercress with greens or a vegetable of your choice, you can swap the fish for any other type of Bangladeshi fish and you will still have a fantastic fish curry. The base masala (minus the fenugreek seeds) is how I tend to cook most of my fish curries, sometimes I vary this by also adding a few cloves of garlic depending on what I’m cooking.
The watercress itself is unlike spinach or other greens, in that it remains crunchy in texture even after cooking. The leaves and stem have a wonderful peppery taste, making this curry truly unique. The curry tastes particularly good when cooked with Bangladeshi fish such as Boal (Wallago) or Ayer (Long Whiskered Catfish). You may cook it with others such as Rohu (Indian Rohu) or even Mrigal (White Carp), but the first two would be my primary suggestions.
- 2 large Boal fish steaks
- oil (approx 5 tbsp)
- a small pinch of fenugreek seeds
- 1 - 1.25 tsp salt (can be adjusted later if needed)
- 1 onion (I used a medium onion but didn't need all of it)
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp mixed curry powder (I used Rajah Mixed Curry Powder)
- 2 bags of salad watercress
- water as needed (I used approx 300ml, you may use more/less if you prefer)
- 5 - 6 green chillies
- coriander for garnishing
- The fish steaks I have used are from the widest part of the fish, you can use any part of the fish for this recipe including the head and tail.
- Fenugreek seeds are vital to this recipe, without the seeds this dish is incomplete and won't give the desired taste unique to this dish.
- When I intend to peel onions for grating I like to keep the top part of the onion in tact, this makes holding the onion (and grating) much easier.
- This onion was fairly large so I didn't use all of it, I used about ⅔ of the onion, alternatively grate a small onion to begin with.
- Pour approximately 5 tbsp of oil into medium size saucepan, I usually eyeball this and just make sure I have enough oil covering the base of my pan.
- Once the oil is hot add the fenugreek seeds and wait for them to release their aroma.
- Once you can smell the aroma from the seeds add the grated onion, followed by 1 - 1.25 tsp of salt, mix and leave the onions to soften whilst you prepare the fish.
- You want to cut the fish into smaller pieces using a very sharp knife as shown in the photos above....
- until you have four smaller pieces.
- Don't forget to remove any fins that may be attached to the fish pieces.
- Next using about half a teaspoon of salt, massage the fish pieces gently (top right photo), then top up with cold water (bottom left photo, do not wash off the salt) and leave soaked in the salted water till needed.
- By now the onions should be soft and translucent and the oil will have separated from the onions (bottom right photo).
- Add the ground spices; 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp coriander powder and 1 tsp mixed curry powder and mix well.
- At this point my masala seemed quite dry, so to prevent it from burning I added a splash of water to loosen it.
- Cover the masala and leave to cook for a few minutes over a low heat.
- Roughly chop the watercress, the leaves tend to become stringy once cooked, this makes it easier to stir and serve.
- When you can see the oil has separated from the masala (it will be bubbling over the top), you are ready to add the watercress.
- Add the watercress and mix well, leave to cook over a low flame whilst you wash the fish.
- Using running cold water wash the fish pieces till the water runs clear, use your hands to massage the fish whilst you wash.
- Drain the fish pieces in a colander and then add to the saucepan.
- Mix the fish and coat in the masala....
- cover and leave to simmer over a gentle flame till the fish pieces are cooked through.
- In the meantime slice the 5 - 6 green chillies and chop some fresh coriander.
- Once the fish pieces start to look cooked through and opaque, you want to add water to create the gravy ('shira' in Bengali). I added approximately 300ml of water, add less/more depending on how watery you like your fish curries.
- Adding water can reduce the amount of salt in the overall curry, so you will need to test for salt after the curry has boiled for the last time.
- After adding the water you should notice the oil rise to the top (top left photo).
- You can opt to add your sliced green chillies at this point or towards the end, adding at this point infuses the curry with more heat than when they're added just before removing the curry from the heat.
- Cover the curry again and turn up the heat and bring to a boil, boil for 7 - 10 minutes.
- Garnish the dish with coriander just before serving.
- This curry is best eaten with plain rice, watch the people around your dining table go for seconds once they taste this delicious curry!