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City chefs toss up a fishy feast

Forget the omega 3, vitamins and minerals, and dig into a fish feast this winter, for the sheer pleasure of experiencing a delectable bite. A popular belief says that one is not supposed to eat fish in months that...

india Updated: Dec 22, 2012 01:47 IST
Debasmita Ghosh
Add-fish-to-your-meal-for-a-better-health
Add-fish-to-your-meal-for-a-better-health

Forget the omega 3, vitamins and minerals, and dig into a fish feast this winter, for the sheer pleasure of experiencing a delectable bite. A popular belief says that one is not supposed to eat fish in months that don’t contain an ‘r’ in their names, so, understandably, fish is avoided in the monsoon months of June, July and August. Come winter, the nip in the air sets the mood to dig into this marine delight, as it’s also a time of the year when one wants to eat a little more rich protein-laden foods than the summer or monsoon months.

“Fish is extremely beneficial for this season as it gives warmth to the body,” says chef Veena Arora of The Imperial New Delhi. However, if you are bored of the same old fish tikka, and the baked salmon or tuna seems too elite and formal for your palate, you could try out these very desi fish dishes from all over India, tossed up by some of the top chefs of the city. So, set aside that fork and knife and fold up your sleeves as you dig into this fishy platter.


RED SNAPPER WITH ANDHRA CURRY
It’s a traditional dish from the villages of Andhra Pradesh, and is rich with flavours of simplicity

Chef Ravitej Nath, Executive Chef, The Oberoi, Gurgaon

Andhra-style fish served with spicy curry

Ingredients

For marination and cooking of fish: 4 Red snapper fish fillet, 15gm Deghi chili powder, 1gm turmeric powder, 5gm coriander powder, 25ml tamarind pulp, 1gm crushed black pepper, 5ml refined oil, 5gm ginger, 10gm garlic paste, 1gm curry leaves (shredded), 20ml cooking oil, salt to taste

For Andhra curry
: 50ml vegetable oil, 1gm mustard seeds, 0.5 tsp fenugreek seeds, 2 red chilli whole, 15gm peeled garlic whole, 100gm boiled onion paste, 0.5gm turmeric powder, 10gm red chilli powder, 500gm fresh tomato puree, salt

Method
Clean dry the fish fillets and keep aside. Take the oil for marination in a pan. Add chilli powder, turmeric, ginger-garlic paste, coriander powder, tamarind pulp and shredded curry leaf. Rub all the ingredients until the spices blend well. Add salt and marinate the fish and keep refrigerated for about an hour. On a hot griddle/tawa cook the fish by searing it on both sides. To make the curry, heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and whole red chillies, and allow them to crackle. Add whole peeled garlic and curry leaves to this. Add boiled onion paste and saute till cooked. Add turmeric powder and chilli powder, followed by fresh tomato puree. Cook till done when it leaves oil. Finish with tamarind pulp. Serve hot with the fish.

What to remember:
The fish is the main character in the play and it’s critical that it plays its part, so don’t overcook the fish. It takes only 7-8 minutes to cook the fish.
Don’t over spice the fish. To enjoy the dish at it’s best, the fish must retain its natural flavour.

PABDA MACHER JHAAL
Catfish in mustard, the Bengal way

Chef Ramesh Dhani, Baywatch, Welcom Hotel Sheraton, New Delhi

Ingredients
500gm Pabda (Catfish), 1tsp ginger paste, 5-6 cloves garlic sliced, 2 onions sliced, 2 tbsp onion paste, 1tbsp mustard paste, salt, 50gm mustard oil, 1/4 tsp kala jeera (nigella seeds)

Method
Smear the fish in turmeric and salt and slightly fry, then keep aside. Heat mustard oil in a pan, add kala jeera, sliced onions and garlic, a pinch of turmeric and salt, and fry for about seven minutes. Add the onion and ginger paste, and cook for another five minutes. Now add two cups of water, salt and bring to boil. Add the fish, cook for two minutes. Pour the mustard paste, boil for a minute and serve hot with steamed rice.

What to remember:
Add a pinch of salt and green chilly to the mustard when making the paste to avoid bitterness.
Catfish is a very soft fish, so do not cook it too long else it’ll melt in the gravy.

Chef Ramit Wason, Crowne Plaza Today, New Delhi, Okhla

This dish is quite easy to make as no elaborate preparation is required, and it’s quite quick too. The marvellous crust adds on to the amazing fish texture

Ingredients
1 tsp black pepper, 2tsp ground cumin, 1tsp red chilli powder, 1tsp white pepper, 1 tsp dried thyme, salt to taste, 4tbsp butter (melted), 400gm/4 nos Surmai fish (kingfish), cut on the bone

Method
In a small bowl, mix pepper, cumin, thyme and salt. Sprinkle both sides of fillets with spice mixture, and gently pat mixture on to the fish. Heat a heavy cast iron pan on heat until hot. Pour 1 tbsp melted butter. Dip each fillet into butter, turning once to coat both sides. Place fillets into hot pan without crowding. Carefully pour melted butter over each fillet. Cook until fish has a charred appearance. Serve hot with lemon.

What to remember:

Do not cook at a very high temperature as that’ll make the fish dry and tough.
Do not marinate the fish for too long as that will make it mushy.

MACHHALI MUSLAM

Chef Davinder Kumar, Le Meredien
The avant garde preparation and presentation of this dish brings out the texture and taste of this fish and can be a novelty to fish lovers

Awadhi style stuffed fish in gravy

Ingredients:
1 kg Trout fish

For filling
:
300gm Sole fish (minced), 100gm red capsicum (chopped), 50gm green coriander, 100gm cheese (grated), salt and white pepper to taste, 4 egg whites. For gravy: 50gm ghee, 1/4 tsp royal cumin, 100gm boiled onion puree, 50gm cashew nut paste, 150gm tomato puree, salt to taste, 1 tsp Kashmiri mirch powder, 1/2 tsp Kasoori methi powder, 30ml cream, 1/4 tsp green
cardamom powder, a pinch of mace powder, a pinch of garam masala, 25gm butter, 1tsp green coriander (chopped)

Method
Debone the trout completely, retaining its head and tail, clean, wash and keep aside. To prepare the filling, put all the ingredient including the minced sole fish in a mixing bowl and mix well. Stuff this mixture into the fish and ensure it doesn’t come out. Grease a roasting tray, place the fish in vertical position. Cover with silver foil and roast the fish in a preheated oven at 300°c for 8-10 minutes. Now, to prepare the gravy, add ghee and cumin seeds in a pan and saute. Add boiled onion puree and cook till water evaporates. Add cashew nut paste and tomato puree and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt, Kashmiri mirch powder, kasoori methi and keep cooking. Add cream, green cardamom powder, mace powder, garam masala and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove the fish from the oven, place it on a serving platter. Pour the gravy on top, sprinkle green coriander and serve hot.

What to remember:

Scale and gut the fish gently to avoid the skin from getting damaged.
Allow it to rest for 10 minutes for easy slicing.

Chef Ramit Wason, Crowne Plaza Today New Delhi Okhla

This dish is quite easy to make as no elaborate preparation is required, and it’s quite quick too. The marvellous crust adds on to the amazing fish texture

Ingredients:
1 kg Trout fish

For filling
:
300gm Sole fish (minced), 100gm red capsicum (chopped), 50gm green coriander, 100gm cheese (grated), salt and white pepper to taste, 4 egg whites. For gravy: 50gm ghee, 1/4 tsp royal cumin, 100gm boiled onion puree, 50gm cashew nut paste, 150gm tomato puree, salt to taste, 1 tsp Kashmiri mirch powder, 1/2 tsp Kasoori methi powder, 30ml cream, 1/4 tsp green
cardamom powder, a pinch of mace powder, a pinch of garam masala, 25gm butter, 1tsp green coriander (chopped)

Method
Debone the trout completely, retaining its head and tail, clean, wash and keep aside. To prepare the filling, put all the ingredient including the minced sole fish in a mixing bowl and mix well. Stuff this mixture into the fish and ensure it doesn’t come out. Grease a roasting tray, place the fish in vertical position. Cover with silver foil and roast the fish in a preheated oven at 300°c for 8-10 minutes. Now, to prepare the gravy, add ghee and cumin seeds in a pan and saute. Add boiled onion puree and cook till water evaporates. Add cashew nut paste and tomato puree and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt, Kashmiri mirch powder, kasoori methi and keep cooking. Add cream, green cardamom powder, mace powder, garam masala and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove the fish from the oven, place it on a serving platter. Pour the gravy on top, sprinkle green
coriander and serve hot.

What to remember:
Scale and gut the fish gently to avoid the skin from getting damaged.
Allow it to rest for 10 minutes for easy slicing.


MEEN KOZHAMBO
Chef Veena Arora, The Spice Route, The Imperial New Delhi

The spices used in this recipe such as star anise, ginger and garlic are perfect for winter

Ingredients:
200gm sole fish, 30gm onion (chopped), 30gm tomato (chopped), 5gm garlic paste, 5gm ginger paste, 5gm green chilli, 3gm turmeric powder, 3gm red chilli powder, 3gm coriander powder, 5gm salt, 2 star anise

Method:
Stir fry all the above ingredients except star anise and grind it into a paste. Pour oil into the wok, stir fry the star anise, and add the paste and coconut milk. Rub a little salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder onto the fish, and then deep fry. Add it to the curry and serve hot.

What to remember:
Do not burn the spices when stir frying them as it can give a burnt taste to the gravy which can spoil your eating experience.
Always fry the fish to make it more succulent, delectable and odour free.

Kerala style fish curry

Fun fish facts
Fish came on earth long before dinosaurs did.
The largest fish in the world is the whale shark that can be 65ft long, weighing up to about 34,019kg. The smallest is the 7.9mm Paedocypris, belonging to the carp family, found in the swamps of Sumatra.
Though jellyfish and crayfish have the word ‘fish’ after their names, they are not actually fish.
While some fish such as Tuna can swim at a speed of upto 70kph, some can even climb a rock.

Fish markets in Delhi
Chittaranjan Park, market No 1 and 2
(Nearest metro: Nehru Place)
INA market (Nearest metro: INA)
Kalkaji extension (Nearest metro: Govindpuri)
New Ashok Nagar market (Nearest metro: New Ashok Nagar)
Netaji Subhash Market, Karol Bagh
(Nearest metro: Karol Bagh)