Fish kalia is an authentic Bengali fish curry being relished since ages. Fish kalia is usually made with katla which is an Indian carp fish; but you can replicate it with any meaty fish of your choice.
If you ask me one particular food I grew up on, that definitely would be fish! Hence, I bring to you a very popular fish recipe from my hometown which is called fish kaila or to be specific machher kalia where machh means fish. I am a fish lover since my childhood and no meals of mine would have been complete without fish. Fish curry was a constant item in our daily meal during my school days and nothing else could make me happier. So, I cannot keep you guys deprived from one immensely popular fish recipe from my part of the world and it is called Fish Kalia!
Fish kalia is a rich curry-based preparation made with deep-fried fish steaks. Traditionally, fish kalia is prepared with fresh-water carp fish, but any firm white fish will also do; but better try to avoid buttery fishes like cat fish or Basa. This fish kalia is quite a simple recipe with just a few prep works. You can make the sauce ahead of time and just heat it up before serving, adding the cooked fish steaks into the sauce and simmering it for couple of minutes. This way, your fish kalia can be an ideal dinner on a weeknight. This flavorful fish kalia pairs best with plain Basmati rice as you can relish every flavor of the Fish and its aromatic sauce with it.
You might know that India is a country of diverse cultures and along with that it has ‘n’ number of cuisines [where ‘n’ tends to infinity!]. My life began in the fish-eating region of Eastern India and people there seem to eat fish even in their dreams! At least I did! This fish kalia is one of the regular dishes made in a typical Bengali family ours being one of them. I loved the thick gravy of my fish kalia and never got bored of it.
As I grew up, my love for fish didn’t reduce even a bit. Though my husband is a bit too freaky about chicken, I make sure to include fish in our menu almost every day – I mean, that’s what Bengalis are known for, right? Their unconditional love for fish! Hence, you can guess that this fish kalia appears on our dinner table a little too frequently!
- Firm white fish – 6 steaks [I used the fresh water fish Rohu]
- Onion – 2, medium
- Ginger paste – 2 tbsp
- Garlic paste – 2 tbsp
- Turmeric powder – 1 & ½ tsp
- Red chili powder – 1 tsp
- Garam masala – 1 tsp
- Yogurt – ½ cup
- Mixed melon seeds a.k.a. Chaarmagaz – 2 tbsp
- Sugar – 2 tsp
- Tomato puree – ½ cup
- Vegetable or mustard oil
- Salt to taste
- Add half a teaspoon each of salt and turmeric powder to the fish steaks and coat all over well.
- Heat a non-stick skillet and add enough oil for deep frying. When the oil is hot, add the fish steaks carefully into it. Fry them till they run deep brown. Take out and set aside on a kitchen towel to absorb excess water.
- While the fish is being sautéed, prepare other ingredients – make a smooth paste of the onions and set aside.
- Mix the chaarmagaz with little water and grind to a smooth paste. Mix this melon seeds paste with the yogurt and combine well adding a little water if necessary. The yogurt mixture should be smooth; else it may curdle while adding to the sauce. Set side.
- Once the fish steaks are all fried, remove the extra oil from the skillet leaving only about 2 tablespoons in it.
- Add the onion paste and garlic paste to the hot oil and saute till lightly brown. Then add the ginger paste and continue cooking on medium flame.
- Now in a small bowl, mix the turmeric powder and red chili powder with very little amount of water and mix well.
- When the onion-ginger-garlic has turned golden brown, add this spice powder mix. Add sugar and salt to taste. Keep stirring on medium high heat.
- Next add the tomato puree and saute till the oil surfaces to the top.
- Add a cup of water and also the mixture of yogurt & melon seeds paste. Keep stirring so that the yogurt doesn't curdle. Add more water if the sauce looks too thick. Bring to boil on high heat. When the oil surfaces again, the gravy is done.
- Finally add the fried fish steaks to the sauce. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes so that all the flavors of the spices infuse the fish well.
- After 5 minutes, uncover the pan and check for seasoning. Adjust if necessary. If you feel the sauce is too thin, you can reduce the gravy by boiling it uncovered on high heat for couple of minutes.
- Once done, turn off the flame and sprinkle the garam masala over it. Mix well and serve your fish kalia hot with steamed Basmati rice.