Shing machher jhol is the fish curry that is made in our family for someone recovering from an illness. There is a whole category of recipes in Bengali that are called 'pothyo' (পথ্য), meaning food for patients to go alongside medicine. Shingi machh (শিঙি বা শিং মাছ), or indeed all jiol fish (জিওল মাছ), are highly nutritious, and are often traditionally prescribed for convalescing patients. All types of jiol machh can stay alive outside water for a long period of time because they have a lung-like secondary respiratory organ. They are always sold live. Magoor (মাগুর), shol (শোল), taki (টাকি), koi (কই), etc., too, fall under this category.
This recipe is best made with any jiol fish, but it can also be prepared with any live freshwater fish such as charapona, shor puti, tilapia, etc. A version of this recipe is known as kabiraji jhol, where the chillies are replaced with black pepper or long peppers.
- 325 g shingi machh
- 100 g potatoes
- 150 g green banana (kachkola)
- 150 g green papaya (kacha pepe)
- 25 g mustard oil
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 6 g cumin powder
- 2 g turmeric powder (plus 3 g extra for marination)
- 10 g salt (plus 3 g extra for marination)
- 15 g ginger paste
- 4 green chillies
- 225 ml hot water
- Rub atta on the fish to get rid of the fishy smell. This will also reduce the sliminess. Rinse thoroughly. Then, rub on the back of a strainer to get rid of the remaining sliminess.
- In a mixing bowl, coat fish with 3 g each of salt and turmeric powder.
- Divide potatoes lengthwise into four parts. Cut the kachkola and kacha pepe roughly the same dimensions as the potatoes. Crush 2 green chillies using a mortal and pestle.
- Heat mustard oil in a kadai. Fry the fish in batches on medium heat. Each side will take around a minute. Set aside when it turns golden.
- Add kachkola to the same oil. Season with some salt and fry until it turns golden. Set aside.
- Temper the oil with a bay leaf and cumin seeds.
- Add potatoes, season with salt, cover, and let them fry for about 4 minutes.
- Add kacha pepe to the kadai. Stir and fry on medium heat for 5 minutes.
- In a small bowl, make a paste of cumin powder, turmeric powder, salt and warm water.
- Add the slurry to the pan, along with the crushed green chillies and ginger paste. Fry until the raw smell of the spices dissipates..
- Add hot water to form the curry.
- Once it comes to a boil, add fried kachkola and fried shingi machh, along with 2 whole green chillies.
- Bubble on low heat for 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle a pinch of atta to thicken the curry. Boil for 2 minutes before turning off the heat.