Recipes from India

Maachli Jhal/Bengali Fish

Serves 4


1 teaspoon turmeric
4 tablespoons mustard or peanut oil
¾ cup Akhni Stock or water
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Panch Phoran
1-1/2 pounds halibut or other firm white fish fillets
6 tablespoons Curry Masala Sauce
Garnish: 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves or saffron strands


1. Mix the turmeric and salt into a runny paste with a tiny drop of water, and spread over the fish. Traditionally, this is supposed both to enhance the flavor of the fish and reduce the odor during cooking.
2. Heat the oil in a large pan, then fry the panch phoran for 1 minute. Add the fish pieces, and fry each side for 2 minutes, turning once. Add the curry masala sauce, shake the pan to mix, and simmer for 2 minutes.
3. Add enough akhni stock or water to just cover the fish. Simmer for 10 minutes, always shaking the pan rather than stirring, which can break up the fish.
4. Remove the fish from the pan carefully, and serve with a little of the sauce. Garnish with fresh cilantro or saffron.

(Homestyle Indian Cooking/Pat Chapman, 1998)

Bhatura/Leavened White Flour and Semolina Bread


1-1/4 cups white bread flower
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup semolina
¾ to 1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons plain yogurt
vegetable oil for deep frying


1. Mix the flour, semolina, yogurt, and salt with enough warm water to make a dough as for puri.
2. Leave it to stand in a warm place to rise (about a couple for hours).
3. Roll out to 4-inch disks, and deep-fry in hot oil as for puri until golden. Shake off excess oil, and serve at once.