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The Bihari Way

In an earlier post on this blog, our journey took us to an ancient region of Bihar to explore the delights of Bhojpuri cuisine. For the next part of our journey, we aren’t going anywhere. That’s right, we will stay right here, in Bihar, and explore a special type of traditional Fish Curry that is prepared in this state.

Bihari cuisine is extremely eclectic. Across thousands of years, it has soaked up diverse culinary influences and practices ranging from the ancient kingdom of Magadha to the Mughal era. The region has also been famed as one of India’s most fertile agricultural areas cultivating a dazzling array of vegetables, fruits, spices and grain (mainly paddy and wheat).

The Bihari style of preparing a Fish Curry is very different from the way in which the same dish is prepared in the neighbouring states of Bengal and Odisha. The flavour is completely different. This is because a unique experience is created for the taste-buds by slowly roasting spices over a low flame before they are used in the cooking process. And because the Bihar region is rich in spices, an exotic variety of locally available spices is artfully blended to create a memorable culinary experience.

The Fish Curry that we will be preparing today is made with a fish called Rohu, a freshwater fish of the Carp family. It is found in rivers all across South Asia and is very popular in India.

Here are the ingredients that you will require.

Ingredients:

  1. Fish (Rohu): 6 pieces

  2. Green Chillies: 2

  3. Red Chillies: 2

  4. Tomatoes: 70 grams

  5. Garlic (Lasun): 10 cloves

  6. Mustard Oil: 6 tablespoons

  7. Mustard Seeds (Rai): 1 tablespoon

  8. Cumin (Jeera) Seeds: 1 teaspoon

  9. Fenugreek (Methi) Seeds: 1 teaspoon

  10. Turmeric (Haldi) Powder: 3 teaspoons

  11. Red Chilli Powder: 2 teaspoons

  12. Garam Masala: 1 teaspoon

  13. Bay Leaves (Tej Patta): 2

  14. Coriander (Dhania) Leaves: 1 tablespoon

  15. Black Peppercorns: 1 teaspoon

  16. Salt: 3 teaspoons

The quantities mentioned above are for two servings. Adjust the quantities proportionately to suit the number of servings that you require.

Preparation:

Take the fish pieces in a mixing bowl and sprinkle two teaspoons of salt along with two teaspoons of turmeric powder, two teaspoons of red chilli powder and one tablespoon of Mustard Oil over the pieces. Use your hands to mix the oil and spices, and then ensure that each piece of fish is well-coated in the spices. Let the fish marinate for around 20 minutes or so.

In another bowl, add the green chillies, red chillies, garlic, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and black peppercorns along with the remaining teaspoon of turmeric powder and the remaining teaspoon of salt. Mix well.

Chop the tomatoes into small pieces and add them to the bowl of spices. Grind all the spices and tomato pieces into a paste.

Coarsely chop the coriander leaves.

Method:

In a pan, heat the remaining Mustard Oil on a High flame till it reaches its smoking point and wisps of white smoke begin to rise from the surface of the oil. Reduce the flame to Medium.

Carefully add the pieces of marinated fish to the hot oil and fry well till the pieces are crisp and their outer surfaces turn medium brown in colour. Remove the pan from the flame and keep aside.

In another pan, add the paste that you had made earlier with ground spices and tomatoes. Add the bay leaves and gently roast the contents over a Low flame. This is the traditional culinary practice that we had described earlier – the slow-roasting of spices to intensify the flavour of the dish.

Next, add the pieces of fried fish to the spice paste and mix well to ensure that all the pieces are well-coated in the spice-and-tomato mixture.

Now add around 100 millilitres of water to the pan and allow the contents to simmer on a Low flame for around 10 minutes.

Finally, add the garam masala and the coriander leaves, and stir to mix well. At this stage, you can also check the salt and adjust it, if required. After a minute or so turn the flame off.

Your traditional Bihari Fish Curry is now ready. Serve it hot. This dish is usually eaten with rice. And if your taste-buds are of the discerning variety, you will notice that the taste and texture of the gravy in this curry is very different from the gravy that you would find in a Bengali or an Oriya Fish Curry.

You can find more recipes at : https://www.purioilmills.com/recipes-in-english/


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