Bengali Fish Curry with Coconut and Poppy Seeds

I love fish curries! What can I say, they’re so quick and delicious! I’m always on the lookout for something out of the ordinary and this Bengali preparation delivers just that. Using all the flavours associated with the Bengali region; mustard oil, poppy seeds and coconut, I was treated to a really unusual and truly amazing flavour. An almost peanutty rich and creamy sauce which is out of this world delicious. I absolutely loved it. I’ll be making this again soon without a doubt.

500g white fish (skinned, boned and cut into chunks)
4 tablespoons mustard oil
4 dried Kasmiri chillies
20 curry leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1½ tablespoons poppy seeds
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 small hot green chillies (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
300ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon tamarind paste

Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan until hot. Add the dried chillies and curry leaves and fry for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, scoop out the chillies and leaves and place into a pestle and mortar along with the cumin seeds, poppy seeds, turmeric, coriander, fresh green chillies, salt, sugar and 1 tablespoon water and pound for about 5 minutes into a smooth paste.

Pour off half of the oil from the wok, then heat over a moderate temperature until hot again. Add the paste along with another tablespoon water and fry for 1 minute. Pour in 200ml water and stir well. Bring to a bubble and simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has reduced by half and the oil separates. Pour in the coconut milk and stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered for 10 minutes until reduced to a consistency of cream. Add the fish chunks and simmer for 5 minutes until cooked through. Very gently stir in the tamarind paste and adjust salt & sugar levels to your taste.

I served mine with lots of fragrant Basmati Kitchari (recipe coming soon), topped with a handful of finely chopped celery and radish for crunch.

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