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. 


Sharmila said…
And in Konkan or Maharashtra it would be a mix of both ... rotis or bhakris made from rice flour. :-)
The dish looks awesome Kalyan ... ektu gorom bhaater shonge ... aha! :-)
Lazy Pineapple said…
slurrrrp...Pomfret is one of my favourite fish...I miss it so much....

I had just lived on this fish alone during my honeymoon to Ganapatipule in Konkan :)

The dish looks absolutely delish...
Scarlett said…
Your fish looks so delicious, I want to eat it right off your blog! Even though I'm not a fish lover!!

And I have to say this - I would like to encourage you at your attempts at food fiction, but you're SO SO much better with the real stuff :))

I'm just being honest.
k said…
It's milder than it looks. It's tastier than it looks.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Sharmila, ek dom. No fish without gorom bhaat (rice)

@Lazy: could pomfrets be the oysters of honeymooning couples in the West Coast :)

@Ash: Well I guess I was as brutal with the fish :) But seriously, thanks. I am completely tripping on Bourdain's ' A Cook's Tour' right now. Non fiction

Pomfret has no bones so go ahead

@K: Let down by art?
wanderer said…
Ok OK...I confess I had just glanced through your blogs.

And all I will say at the moment, amar eka ranna ghor dorkar...ami ei sob raana korte chai chai chai....If in case you dont understand bengali I can tranlate my exasperation into english.

Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Wanderer... aami Bangla jaani :) I just try to keep my responses in English jaate shobai bojhe

Can completely empathise with what you say. I used to live in a vegetarian PG at Mumbai. Truly begun to feel home only after I got my first rannaghor (Kitchen)
Dew said…
Sounds interesting, shall try someday making this. Looking at ur header ...its so tempting, you know I try and make rohu fish with Postu...very alu posto :), lots of green chillies & cooked in mustard oil... It tastes yum wid sheddho bhaat!!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Dew: thank, Rui posto sounds heady. You fry the rui first? Rui is too chunky to just steam in my opinion