Fish Curry in a spicy mustard sauce

I have had a lifelong struggle with that word..I wasn't really ever too keen on following a particular tradition, just for the heck of it...just coz thats how things have been. Oh no I didn't.I was not a rebel, but I was( still am) quite opinionated...especially when it comes to someone trying to force their believes and value systems down others throat in the name of tradition.
India isn't really an easy place to live in..Its a little too crowded...a little too steeped in conflicting traditions that should have been thrown away along with the Mughals and the British! Traditions that dont match the heart of today's youth..that have no place in the nation that we are trying to build ..traditions soo steeped in hypocrisy that it  sounds mind numbing just reading about them..

Don't get me wrong. I love India. It is a beautiful gem of a land, driven to madness by the loud cacophony of incessant noise one hears in the name of tradition.. a country that is sagging with the buden of its own tradition...a society where men believe they rule or own women...where Love is considered to be a dirty word..and marrying for love is tantamount to the most heinous of crimes, warranting a death certificate by their own kins.. where its considered OK to educate the boy and let the girl child help with the chores at home, hell, where if the girl child is lucky, she might get born., the tradition of child marriage..and girls bearing kids when they themselves are kids...Tradition of worshiping the billion Gods we have in the hope of forgiveness, and then promptly forgetting that same God while doing horrible crimes..That is the  tradition I am against..

But I  love tradition of a special kind... I love the tradition of mothers handing down their love to their kids..of fathers keeping the tradition of respect for one's elders alive in us..the tradition of touching the feet of our elders ...the tradition of treating our guests as Gods or "Atithi Devo Bhawa"..the tradition of believing in the  sanctity of  marriage..the tradition of sounding the conch shells and lighting diyas in the evening..the tradition of a sister tying her brother's love in a simple thread during Rakhi..the tradition of that same brother vowing to protect and cherish his sister....the love of a wife as she fasts "nirjal" or without water for her love on Karvachauth...the tradition of our Poojas and festivals...the tradition of invoking Lord Ganesha before starting a new task...the tradition of Holi and Diwali..the Sindoor Khel of Durga Pujo..the gloriousness of Lohri....I love the tradition of putting a kaala tika on our babies...i love the tradition of valuing everyone...and i especially love the tradition of mom's passing on some gems from their kitchens to us!!

Yup.... I am talking food now. Lets just say I have a Love-Hate relationship with Tradition.
But this particular tradition is one I love love love!! And I am not talking about your mom's prized china or copper utensils here people...I am talking about the gems of recipes..the little pearls of wise tips..the delicious little anecdotes that comes with the recipes one gets handed down from their mothers and grandmoms!That is a tradition that I am proud to be a part of...and lucky to get hold of !! :P

This particular fish curry needs no introduction to most Indians...from whichever state they might belong to.
Its a simple,time tested curry thats been passed on from generation to generation..
Although Bengalis and Oriyas make it the way I have done here, most regions have their version of a similar mustard curry and I am sure it must be just as delectable.

The original recipe of my mom and grandmom before her asked for the use of "ambula"..I have no idea what its called in hindi or english! Its a sour dried tamarind thing that gave the curry a rather special flavour. I cant find them in these parts, so I amended it to use standard tamarind paste...And my version works damn well too! In fact its a very very rich and flavourful curry...

Once you open up the lid of the pot, your senses will be intoxicated with layers of flavor and fragrance...There's the strong hard-to-mask pungent fragrance from the mustards, the earthy aroma of garlic,the heat from green chillies...tang from tamarind and the special magical aroma of curry leaves!
As for the fish....hmm .... You can eat the fried fish as it is...they are super yumm with a squeeze of lime..and the fish in the curry?? Oh My... now that one can sing a song.... croon a soft melodious tune in your ears as its breaks open at the lightest touch to reveal a shiny white inside thats utterly deliciously flavoured from the spices of the gravy!

Here's how my grandma, my mum and me make it... :

Rohu Fish or Hilsa maach- 1 kg , cut into fillets, scakes removed and cleaned.

For the fish Marinade (15-20 mins before frying) :
Salt (as per taste)
Turmeric 1 tsp,
Kashmiri Red Chillie Powder 2 tsp
Ginger Garlic Paste 1 tbsp ( i use fresh paste)
Lemon Juice of 1 lemon
Tamarind Paste 1 1/2 tsp.
Mustard Oil 2 tbsp.

For the Masala or the gravy : 

Grind together into a fine paste the under mentioned: 
Black Mustard Seeds - 40gm
Yellow Mustard Seeds -20 gm
Garlic 1 whole
Ginger 1/2inch
Green Chillies - 3 or more.
Red Chillie -1
Turmeric -1/2 tsp
Salt- a pinch.
Ripe Tomato- 1 small.

Onion 1 large
Ripe Tomatotes - 1 medium
Potatoes - 1 ( cut into wedges)

Garnish :
Crushed Garlic Cloves - 2
Green Chillies Slit- 1
Dried Red Chillie - 1
Curry Leaves -  1 stem
Black Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp

Coriander Leaves - 1-2 tbsp
Lemon Juice - 1 lemon

You also need Tamarind Paste of 1 1/2tbsp.


Next for the curry: 
When ready to serve, add a touch of chopped coriander to your curry and enjoy!
I serve it with some plain rice,fish fries sprinkled over with lime juice and dhania patta, a green salad ,some cool raita,.poppadums and a cold drink.. Perfect Traditional Indian Lunch is served.  .

Passing on the tradition from a long line of feeders,

(This one is for you grandma "aayi")
S :)