by Sunita on July 23, 2008

Fish forms an important part of our diet. Growing up on the banks the mighty Brahmaputra, fresh riverine fish found their way into our dining table very, very often. Although we do have our rich versions of preparing them, the most common way of enjoying them would be a light, soup like curry (patla jool/anja). Pieces of fish are panfried and dunked into a light curry, based on leafy and other vegetables. Apart from the occasional sorioh maas ( fish in a mustard paste) or aphu maas (fish in a poppy seed paste), hardly any curry is made only with spices.

When we moved to the UK, we did go in search of the riverine fishes from back home. But, then, after having tried them once, and found that they tasted more like rubber than the fish we loved so much, we gave up. After all, being frozen and flown over half the world was bound to have its effects. So, we decided to go local and have have been ever since. Salmon remains the strong favourite, but others like mackerel, sea bass, herring , rainbow trout , cod, haddock etc, have also made their way into our kitchen and on our plates.

On a day to day basis,a plate of plain rice accompanied with a maasor patla jool ( light fish curry) would be the ideal comfort food. The following recipe for aloo-bilahi-maas(potato- tomato- fish ) is one of such…

If you want to invest a little more time on it, add a paste of onion, ginger and garlic, instead of the finely choppped ones that I added…

What’s needed-

5-6 pieces of rainbow trout
4-5 medium sized potatoes, quartered, boiled and roughly crumbled
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 + 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
3/4 tsp cumin powder
3 C of water
4 tblsp of oil
a small bunch of coriander, chopped

for the tempering-

1 bay leaf
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 red chilli, split into half

How to-

  1. Rub the fish pieces with the 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Heat the oil in a pan and fry them. Reserve the oil.
  2. In the same oil, add the ingredients for tempering and when the seeds start to splutter, add the tomatoes,onions and garlic, along with the rest of the turmeric powder and a pinch of salt. Cook covered over low heat till the tomatoes are mushy…do not let it dry out too much.
  3. Add the potatoes,cumin powder and cook, stirring continuously till everything thickens.
  4. Pour the water, increase the heat to high and bring the curry to a boil.
  5. Add the fish, garam masala powder and season with salt. Simmer till the oil begins to rise to the top. Mash a few bits of potatoes.
  6. Add the coriander and simmer for a few seconds.
  7. Serve hot with plain rice, a squirt of lemon and enjoy.

And as I mentioned earlier, serve with plain rice, and if you wish, some salad and a stir fry.

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nags July 23, 2008 at 9:19 am

yeah in kerala too fish is a staple, comfort food for most. i miss cooking non veg but then its no fun eating alone when TH is vegetarian, so its not all bad i guess :)


2 Dhanggit July 23, 2008 at 11:30 am

this is so beautiful and delicious :-) you made me drooooool !!


3 Dhivya July 23, 2008 at 5:49 pm

just sent an e-mail regarding my unavailabily on nov-08 for the event. Please check your spam folder.;-)


4 sunita July 23, 2008 at 6:13 pm

yes, being near the water does facilitate a lot fish eating, doesn’t it :-)


5 sunita July 23, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Got your mail…no worries…thanks for letting me know and all the best :-)


6 Sophie July 23, 2008 at 6:40 pm


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7 Cham July 23, 2008 at 9:19 pm

I grew up eating seafood in everyday basis. After moving to US, i found only few fishes were fresh! Now i just gave up eating :( But ur lovely pict make me drool over ur plate!


8 Dee July 23, 2008 at 9:40 pm

Sunita , Im vegetarian but my husband doesnt mind eating fish microwaved and sprinked with salt and pepper.. thats how much he loves it. He will be delighted when I share this recipe with him. Lovely pics , enticing to a vegetarian like me.


9 musical July 23, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Love your description of the different
fish curries (and i am vegetarian). I guess its the feeling of comfort you paint with your words that makes me feel so good…..Because i could visualize a warm and hearty mealtime, when everyone gets together and enjoys! Pure comfort!


10 karuna July 24, 2008 at 12:29 am

i was born and bought up in kolkatta. and i simply love fish curry and rice. its been a while i have eaten tht, as my hubby is a veg. this looks simply mouthwatering.


11 delhibelle July 24, 2008 at 12:53 am

Like dee & musical, even as a vegetarian I find the pics beautiful & delicious but I think you have forgotten to mention when the onion goes in!


12 A_and_N July 24, 2008 at 1:36 am

I am a vegetarian and even I’m drooling! How do you take such pictures :) ?



13 JZ @ Tasty treats July 24, 2008 at 2:23 am

oh yummmmm!!! the pics are just soo pleasing to the eyes!! :-)


14 sunita July 24, 2008 at 7:57 am

Thanks for the invite…I’ll get in touch :-)

We do really love our fish :-)

Thanks dear…glad to be able to tempt you…do pass it on to your DH :-)


15 sunita July 24, 2008 at 8:00 am

Yes, we do enjoy our fish very much, thank you :-) …we love to gorge on simple curries like this with some plain rice :-)

Thanks…we lived in Kolkata for nearly two years…both our kids were born there :-)

Thanks..and yes, I have updated the post;it seems that I had forgotten the garlic too :-P


16 sunita July 24, 2008 at 8:02 am

thanks…a bit of practice :-)

Thanks dear :-)


17 Rachel July 24, 2008 at 9:27 am

Seafood is my comfort food…fish and prawns being the higher priority…Never ever have I had a fish with potatoes in the gravy….Must try to taste it…


18 Manggy July 24, 2008 at 12:52 pm

I’m glad you decided to go local, or we never would have seen this delicious curry! :)


19 Anonymous July 24, 2008 at 12:55 pm

just bringing to your notice..there is a spelling mistake, insteadof maas its written as laas on the photo, please correct it.


20 sunita July 24, 2008 at 1:15 pm

we are great fish lovers…but as D is allergic to shell fish, I very rarely cook it at home.

Thanks, and yes, we try to eat fresh local produce as much as we can :-)


21 sunita July 24, 2008 at 1:28 pm

There is no error in the spelling…it is indeed ‘m’ and not ‘l’…if you look closely, they are all English letters,somewhat Indianised…sorry if you have been misled by it.


22 mystic July 24, 2008 at 4:17 pm

yumm, comfort food at its best. Love it. I think the taste of trout and catfish,snapper somewhat resembles that of river fish in assam and bengal. This is exactly my mom makes it (but we call it macher jhol). Love the similarity. Somehow when I make it never turns out the same :( .

BTW, I LOVE your blog.


23 Sagari July 24, 2008 at 4:51 pm

I mean to say fish curry looks deleciousss


24 Susan from Food Blogga July 25, 2008 at 1:03 am

It’s so difficult when you grow with with a certain food fondness and are unable to find it in a new place. You’re dish could not be lovelier.


25 Nirmala July 25, 2008 at 3:55 am

Sunita, I have sent a mail on my new mail address. The fish curry looks mild and comforting!


26 Shreya July 25, 2008 at 6:15 am

Hi Sunita, tha fish curry is a beauty! I love fish (kerala influence!:D) and though we use mostly tomatoes and onions with fish, have never cooked them with vegetables like potato of green leaves. Will surely try this the next time I buy fish:-)


27 Cynthia July 26, 2008 at 12:37 am

I am loving this dish. I love fish curry.


28 Tom Aarons July 29, 2008 at 11:42 am

That top photo is a work of genius! Bravo!


29 sunita July 31, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Thanks…glad you enjoy my work :-)

Thanks :-)

It certainly is…but we have learnt to adapt ourselves to what is available around us and that really helps :-)

I haven’t received your mail yet…have checked the spam folder too :-(

thanks…do give it a try :-)


30 sunita July 31, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Thanks…we love our fish too :-)

Thanks :-)


31 kittie July 31, 2008 at 4:36 pm

I’m a bit late to respond to this one – but yes, it does look like amazing comfort food – and healthy too!!


32 Jaya August 1, 2008 at 7:12 pm

fish curry looks so delicious
hugs and smiles


33 Paula August 7, 2008 at 1:35 am

Oh, this sounds great! I’m looking for rainbow trout recipes, and I’m so glad you’ve posted this. I will definitely give this a try next time my hubby and son bring home some trout!


34 Tim August 7, 2008 at 1:36 pm

I’m always stuck for new ways to serve fish, and this looks amazing. So easy, too! Thanks for the recipe, this is definitely getting a go.


35 bennynac August 7, 2008 at 1:57 pm

instead of water, try fish broth.


36 sunita August 8, 2008 at 10:21 pm

better late than never…yes, we love this curry :-)

thanks :-)


37 sunita August 8, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Thanks…do give it a try…it’s very simple to make :-)

Thanks…do give it a try…it is inded a very easy recipe :-)

Thanks for the suggestion…but, in this recipe, the pieces of fish lend their own distinct flavour to the curry.


38 Soma October 4, 2008 at 2:10 am

Hi this is my first time here and i just started blogging since august. & the moment I saw "assamese" I jumped. I am from Kolkata, and this maacher jhol is making me have urgent craving for it… its been soooo long… hot rice and this in the afternoons, yum yum. I am getting real emotional:-)

& U have a very nice recipes.


39 Jyoti Rama Das May 29, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Hi Sunita,

Really liked your website. Am an Assamese but have been living away from family due to work. Will try cooking the Assamese cuisines.

And yeah let me say that you rock because you promote our food which is so simple and tasty.




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