Thursday, November 23, 2006

Pan Fried Koral

‘Koral’ or Bhetki as it is known outside Bangladesh is a sea fish with a dry, lightly oily flesh. I picked up this recipe from a colleague’s wife last week. Not only did she share her cooking tips with me, she was kind enough to pack the remaining fish for me – ‘You know poor bachelor who loves fish but has to subsist on Maggi and Top Ramen for most of the week.’ :)

The following is a modified formulation that I developed from the same.

Ingredients (Serves 4):

Koral- Whole, about 1 Kg-1 ½ Kg
Worcester Sauce
Dark Soy Sauce
One Lemon
Onions- 3 medium sized finely chopped
Garlic- 1 large clove shredded
Red chilli powder- 1 tsp
Basil- To taste
Ground Pepper- 2 tsp
Fresh pepper corns- 1 tsp
White oil – 4 tbsp
Sugar to taste
Salt to taste


Clean the fish and pierce its sides with a fork so that the marinade can be absorbed faster. Mix dark soy sauce, Worcester sauce, the lemon juice, garlic, salt, ground pepper, chilli powder and pour over the fish. Let it marinate for as long as possible (I kept it for 6 hours). Keep turning it after every hour.

Heat oil in a large non stick fry pan, add the onions and sauté till they are golden brown. Add sugar (The sugar caramelizes to give a lovely brown colour and overpowers the highlights of Worcester sauce and soy sauce in the marinade). Add the fish to the pan and keep on lowest possible flame. Do not add the remaining marinade immediately. Cover and let it simmer for ten minutes.

Turn fish over and cover. Keep repeating this exercise for an hour. In between keep adding the remaining marinade bit by bit so that the fish does not get too dry and stick to the pan. After about an hour the fish will be nicely done (To test if the fish is done or not pierce with a fork, if the fork comes off cleanly, then its done), Add ½ tst sugar to the mix, a little water if required, and remaining marinade. The gravy should be very thick but not burnt.

Roast pepper corns on naked flame and add to the fish. Sprinkle basil lightly. Cover and let it cook for another ten minutes. Serve hot.


  • You can serve this with wedges of lemon that your guests can sprinkle on. In this case I would recommend that you go light on the onions and garlic in the gravy.
  • If you intend to have this as a main course for a traditional rice and fish Bengali dinner, then have a good dal as an accompaniment and maybe a dish like aloo- jeera as a prelude as this one does not have much of a curry. Also, make sure that the earlier dishes are not heavy on oil/ ghee, turmeric or spices as this would dull the sense of smell and the taste buds from appreciating it.
  • Recommended dessert: Roast and grind a small cinnamon stick (1/4 inch) and a couple of coffee beans (instant coffee if you are like me. Scoop out vanilla ice cream in serving dishes. Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon and coffee powder. The bitter taste and sharp smell on creamy vanilla ice cream will help dispel all lingering fishy after taste and prove a nice contrast.
  • Works wonders when accompanied by a dry white wine, candles and romantic oldies. ;)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Egg and Olive Salad

Perfect for an evening of cocktails, especially snappy to make and serve. Being cheesy and non spicy, it goes well at the end of an evening of heavy drinking. Maybe a great snack otherwise, but never had occasion to try it out without booze.



  • 1 cupful of sun dried/ pickled in brine black olives (could substitute with green ones, but black olives bring out the flavour better)
  • 3 hard boiled egg whites
  • 1 small apple (preferably the slightly unripe, juicy ones)
  • 100 gm parboiled baby corn (just ensure that the corn does not become squishy due to over boiling)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh peppercorns


Garlic Salad dressing, at least that’s what I picked up. If you can’t pick up a ready made “Garlic Salad dressing”, then I suggest that you grind a couple of cloves of garlic and whip into half a cup mayonnaise and give it a final whip with a little (balsamic) vinegar, a teeny bit of basil.


All you have to do is mix all the ingredients, add dressing, place in a serving bowl and chill for five minutes before serving.


Would be nice if you can roast the peppercorns slightly before use

For those counting calories, I would recommend skipping the mayo. Instead just whip out a dressing of balsamic vinegar, finely ground garlic, a tbsp olive oil and a dash of basil.

You could also add shredded icy cold lettuce to the salad, wanted to try out the combo but never managed to get fresh lettuce here.

Over a statistically significant number of trials, have built up my faith on the efficacy of this salad’s wonders at quelling squeamish stomachs and reduce hangovers the next day.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Steamed Hilsa

Steamed Hilsa (Bhapa Ilish)

All Bengalis (on both sides of the border) swear by the wonders of the Hilsa. The following is a simple recipie for steamed hilsa customized for easy cooking and healthy eating.

Hilsa (6pcs) in 6tsp mustard seeds ground to a paste, salt to taste, ½ tbs sugar. 1 tsp, turmeric, a little red chilli powder (optional), green chillies- 3 (slit lengthwise to expose the seeds) and 3 tbsp mustard oil.

Put the container with closed lid in the pressure cooker or a microwave. Let the steam rise. Put the weight on top & sim for 5 mins. Put off the gas. Let stand till steam cools. if you are microwaving then cook at medium heat for fifteen minutes.

Take out and serve with hot steamed rice with green chillies fon the side.


  • Do not add water during the marination or the steaming process. The mixture tends to separate out and the juices of the fish are lost.
  • You can moderate the amount of oil to be used if you are very health concious. In fact if the mustard seeds are fresh you can cut down the oil required to about a single tbsp.
  • Best when eaten hot on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Accompanied by great company and Debabrata Biswas's RabindraSangeet or Dylan (according to your preferences) and the a small pre-lunch Vodka with lime.
  • If you can't find Hilsa, a possible alternative could be "Shad"
[Photo courtesy:Bong Mom's Cookbook]