Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fish with tamarind paste, a homey pleasure

Recently, a recipe in The New York Times reminded me of macher tok, or sour fish, because the recipe listed tamarind as an ingredient. The dish, curried striped bass, brought to mind rui and katla, which are similar to bass. So, I decided to try it. It had basically the same ingredients – mustard seeds, turmeric, sugar, tamarind – but differed in a couple of respects: the Bengali version, at least the one in our home, doesn’t use onion and coriander leaves.

The New York Times version turned out to be good enough to eat, although I prefer my mother’s simpler version, which calls for lightly frying the fish before dropping it into the simmering sauce, rather than using straight. But, the point is that the recipe, written by a non-Indian for an American newspaper, had connected me to home and my mother’s cooking.

5 comments:

Kiah said...

Hi do you know of any oils that i can replace mustard oil with because in my city we dont have any indian restaurants or groceries :) thank you

Debraj said...

Hi Angshu.. saw your name in Telegraph.. great going man.. do reply me back in dodo.debraj@gmail.com

Simran said...

Hi

I have a list of all Mumbai based food bloggers on my website. Is it okay if I add you to the list?

Angshuman said...

Simran, please feel free to add mine to your list.

Thanks.

Angshuman

Angshuman said...

Hi Kiah:

I can't think of any oil that can be substituted for mustard oil. It has a distinctive, spicy flavor. Sesame oil is also spicy, but has stronger nutty undertones. Extra-virgin olive oil can have a strong flavor, but is fruity rather than spicy and it tends to lose its flavor on heating, becoming almost neutral. So, you can never go wrong with olive oil.