Being a Bengali, my love affair with fish is an old one. My maternal grandmother was a an amazing cook and when we used to visit her in Kolkata during summer vacations, she used to cook her heart out for all of us every single day that we used to be at her place. When I remember pomfret, I remember her and her shorshe pomfret. This recipe has been passed on from grandmother to my mother and finally to me. With slight twists and turns, hopefully I have done justice to her recipe.
There is however an issue with pomfret which prevents it from being used frequently. Some people find the fishy smell of pomfret too strong to handle. A quick and an easy tip to solve it is to keep it marinated in lime juice for a few hours before cooking.
Pomfret – 2 large (cut into halves)
Tomatoes – 2 medium roughly chopped
Mustard seeds – 1 to 11/2 tbsp
Poppy seeds – ½ tbsp
Green chillies – 5 to 6
Black cumin seeds (kala jeera) – ½ tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves to garnish
Wash the pomfrets well and cut it into half. Marinate them with salt, turmeric powder and lime juice and keep it aside for 2-3 hrs. Make a smooth paste of the mustard seeds, poppy seeds and 2-3 green chillies with a little water and keep aside. Heat mustard oil in a pan till smoking hot and fry the fish pieces lightly. Do not over fry them. In another pan, add 2 tbsp mustard oil and add the black cumin seeds and 2-3 green chillies. Once they start sputtering add the chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. Stir well until the tomatoes turn soft. Add little water and simmer. Then add the mustard+poppy seed paste into it and let it come to a boil. Add the pomfret fish pieces and let it cook in the mustard sauce for 2-3 min at low heat. When the mustard sauce has reduced considerably turn off the heat. Sprinkle chopped coriander from top and drizzle 1-2 tbsp of fresh mustard oil. Serve hot with plain rice.