Mithila Sen: Bengalis love fish in a big way. Mention ilish/hilsa or rui and their eyes will light up. In Kolkata the use of mustard seeds, mustard oil and mustard paste is used in a lot of their cooking. For this dish I have used mackerel as it is easy to source in the UK, is super tasty and is packed full of omega 3 fatty acids – the type of fats that are good for our health. For those who have been following my blog for quite a few years will recognise this recipe as I realise I posted a very similar one with bream back in 2013. You can see it here.
This dish is something that can be rustled up in no time at all – from start to finish is max 15 minutes and unlike many mackerel curries, the fish is not fried. My mother-in-law cooks it fairly frequently so it has naturally become one of my staple dishes too.
There is no need for onion or garlic in this dish, the ingredients are very simple: turmeric, nigella seeds, fresh chillies, chilli powder, wholegrain and English mustard and fresh coriander/cilantro. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.
Kolkata Style Mustard Mackerel Curry
– 3 mackerel, cut into 4 pieces (you can keep the head if you wish, which would make 5 pieces)
– 4 tbsp oil
– 1 tsp nigella seeds
– 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
– 4 fresh chillies, slit at the top to release some seeds
– 3 heaped tsp of wholegrain mustard
– 2-3 heaped tsp English or Dijon mustard
– pinch of chilli powder – optional
– 75ml water
– 1/4 tsp salt
1. Heat the oil and when it is hot add the nigella seeds, turmeric, chilli powder followed by both mustard pastes and the fresh chilli. Move around the pan for up to a minute.
2. Add approximately 25ml of water, salt and then add the fish. Be careful not to move them around too much as you do not want them to break and fall apart. Place a lid on the pan.
3. After a few minutes cooking add a further 50ml water and gently turn the fish over and replace the lid on the pan.
4. Cook for 12 minutes and then take off the heat.
5. Before serving sprinkle fresh coriander leaves. If cooking ahead of time gently reheat the fish adding a little more water and then add the coriander leaves.
Serve with rice or Ruti, breads.
As a side note: this dish is fabulous to eat as leftovers the next day. I like to add a little more water, a heap of fresh spinach and a couple of tomatoes quartered. It tastes delicious.