Bengali Fish Stew w/ cauliflower: Phulkopi / Machher Jhol

Before everything began to be perennially available everywhere, home-cooked food was a celebration of seasonal produce, sourced locally. We lived in the sub-tropical plains and vegetables as: cauliflowers, capsicums, spinach, carrots, peas and a gamut of other vegetables would only be available with the weather cooling down. Come winter, we would especially wait for the arrival of my favourite vegetable – cauliflower – which would then become a part of various dishes – pulaos, stuffed parathas and samosas, curried in various Indian styles, fried, baked, or as an accompaniment in a seasonal ‘machher jhol’ – a lightly spiced fish stew of sorts. The recipe is light on the palate unlike what one gets in restaurants, and like most things I love to cook is quick and easy to make, good for health and delightfully comforting.

Makes: 4 p Level: Easy Preparation: 15 mins Cooking: 25 mins

– White fish fillets: 400g, cut to 4 inch long pieces
– Cauliflower florets: 1 cup
– Mustard or vegetable oil: 2 tbsp
– Ginger paste: 1 tsp
– Cumin powder: 1 tsp
– Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
– Turmeric powder: 2 tsp
– Tomato puree: 2 tbsp
– Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
– Bodi (dried lentil dumplings): handful, optional
– Water: 1 cup
– Green chilli, whole, slit in the middle: 2 nos.
– Salt: to taste
– Fresh coriander leaves, chopped: to garnish

– Clean and pat dry the fish fillets and rub in some salt and turmeric powder, keep aside for 10 mins
– Heat oil in a pan and lightly fry the fish pieces until both sides are lightly browned but still tender- it takes about 5-7 mins. Keep the fried fish aside and lightly fry the bodi, if included, and keep aside
– In the same pan, add the whole cumin seeds and slit chillies and let them splutter for a min.
– Add the cauliflower florets, season with some salt and turmeric and saute until slightly browned
– Add the ginger paste, tomato puree, rest of the turmeric powder, chilli and cumin powder and mix well. Cook the whole mixture until it starts letting out the oil along the edges.
– Add the cup of water, cover and cook on medium heat until the florets are tender, but not mushy
– Add the previously fried fish and bodi (if included), give it a gentle stir, adjust the seasoning and cover and cook for another min or 2
– Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with steamed rice and freshly squeezed lime juice.

– You can cook this anytime of the year of course, since cauliflower is easily available all the year round
– You can add some sliced potatoes too along with the cauliflower, to give it more body. I chose to not add it since am watching my calorie intake

Do give this a try – it works out well for a mid-week meal too, and you can cook bigger quantities and store it for another rainy/ busy day. Do ping me if you give it a try and please, please tag me @polopedia on instagram or post it on our FB page: The Interrobong.

Look forward to your feedback,
Paulomi x


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