The City of Dreams... a fish curry inspired by the city of Mumbai

Note: Bunkin Banu hadn't bunked yesterday. But I don't trust her to cook fish unsupervised

Fish bought three Sundays back, frozen in the fridge. Packaged coconut milk, ready made tomato and onion paste. Must haves in a fast modern city. A cooking tradition inspired by the sea bordering it. Curry leaves and mustard seeds from the Gomantak, Keralite and Mangalorean kitchens of the West Coast. Fish sauteed first and not just plopped straight into the curry. As is the norm in Bengal in the East. Fresh spices ground in a mortar and pestle picked up from Chiang Mai in Thailand. Inspiration from foreign shores.

K was right. The fish curry I cooked up last night did capture the essence of the city of Mumbai. A city where old meets new. A city whose natives make you feel at home no matter where you are from. To use the oft used cliche, a melting pot.

I had just planned to use ready made cooking pastes lying at home last night with a trip to the gym thrown in in between work and the kitchen. Then I came back, saw the mortar and pestle. This is the story of what followed.


My best buy of 2010

  • Masala mix - 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, 1 inch pieces each of fresh turmeric and ginger, 2 split green chillies, 2 split bird's eye chillies. 2,3 tablespoons of coriander leaves. I pounded the mix using the mortar and pestle. You can use a mixer too. Or substitute with powdered spices

  • Saute oil in a pan. I used Olive oil. 1.5 tablespoons
  • Put in 6,7 curry leaves and a teaspoon of mustard seeds into the oil. Wait till it splutters and crackles
  • I added 1 tablespoon of Maggi bhuna masala which happened to to be at home. Otherwise fresh onion and tomato paste would do.
  • Stir till it cooks
  • Add the curry mix that you made to this. Stir a bit
  • Add the fish, 2 pomfrets. Any seawater fish would do - kingfish etc
  • Stir till the spices coat onto the fish. This is a Bengali touch were you are sort of frying the fish. Bengali curries would have deep fried fish put in them. West coast curries, on the other hand, would have fish dunked into the curry straight without frying
  • Add 200 ml of coconut milk to the pan. I used Homemade packaged coconut milk. Add salt and let it simmer. Add a bit of regular milk to thin the curry.
  • Add a couple of split chillies
  • Bring to a boil and let it simmer for ten minutes
  • Eat it with steamed rice
The beauty of the curry to me was that it captured the delicacy of Thai cooking. The sauce didn't smother the taste of the fish as is the tendency in the South West coast of India. The fragrance of curry leaves and the frequent bites of mustard seeds giving it a Mumbaiyya touch to it. Felt good at the end of it. A nice way to bring in the weekend.