The milk of human kindness: Pomfret in a Sleepy Coastal Coconut Milk Sauce

Remember the fish I bought on Sunday? Kainaz's brief to me was non spicy and not 'hot'. I made doi posto eelish. Which, as Spice and More commented, is different from the West Coast and Goan way of cooking. Well I actually directed Banu to make the pomfret for dinner in a 'West Coast' manner.

I am using very broad brush strokes here but some of the key differences in the Bengali and Goan schools of cooking fish are as follows:

Bengali: Fresh water fish, onions rarely, ginger, no garlic, Kalo Jire/ Nigella Seeds, mustard powder (occasionally)  fish fried and then put into gravy to cook, coriander leaves for garnish, mustard oil (I never used that), NO coconut

 Goan/ West Coast: Sea fish, onions, garlic, Rai/ mustard seeds, fish put in raw to cook WITH the gravy, curry leaves, tamarind juice, coconut milk, fresh ground coconut

There are complexities beyond this I am sure but the above captures the key differences.

So here's how we made the pomfret. Can't think of an easier recipe than this to cook fish:

  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan
  • Add a teaspoon of mustard seeds. Let them splutter
  • Add about ten curry leaves. let them splutter. This is where you could add split green chillies
  • Add a bit of whole garam masala
  • Add a tablespoon of chopped onions/ shallots. Stir.
  • When the onion's translucent add one finely chopped tomato. Stir
  • Take 1 teaspoon of garam masala powder, 1/2 tea spoon of red chilly powder (if you don't want it too hot), 1 teaspoon of turmeric, 1/2 a teaspon of sugar and a table spoon of salt. Add a tablespoon or two of water to make a paste out the masala
  • Add the masala to the pan
  • Add 200 ml of ready made coconut milk
  • Let the sauce come to a boil (bubble)
  • Add four pomfrets
  • Cover the pan with a lid. Reduce the flame
  • Should be ready in a maximum of ten minutes
The result was a soft, sleepy sauce with fresh pomfret. I am sure that the Bard had coconut milk in mind when he spoke of the 'milk of human kindness'.

They eat fish with rotis in the West Coast. In the East it has to be rice. Fish curry is followed by a nice snooze at both sides of the country.