My grandmom or Mamaiji as I fondly called her was a complete lover of fish. For her, a meal was never complete without a small piece of fish on the side. It didn’t have to be anything fancy like pomfret – even a small ‘bangda’ or a fillet of Surmai would do. Even she got older and lost all her teeth, she continued craving for fish and would secretly request her grandkids to get her a piece of fish to have with Dhandar making sure her children – who had forbidden her from having fish in the fear of her swallowing a bone – didn’t find out.
It seems I inherited her genes and her love for fish. Growing up, mum told me that I would patiently wait at the balcony for the ‘machchi wali’ and even though no one wanted fish I’d clap my hands loudly and call her up. Once the machchi wali had climbed the two flights of stairs, mum would feel obliged to buy something from her. And, my cute puppy face did help ofcourse!
While we Parsis love our Patra ni Machchi and Saas ni Machchi, no one talks much about our Tareli Machchi (fried fish). Coated in two spices and fried in 5 minutes, Tareli Machchi can jazz up any dish in my opinion. Who wouldn’t enjoy a fillet of freshly fried fish to go with their boring weekday vegetables or curry. Or, if you’re feeling indulgent you could even just have two fillets of fish with some fresh roti!
The dish that this fried fish goes best with is Dhandar. The kick of spice complements the blandness of the dal well and makes what many may think of as an ordinary meal, extraordinary! So, without further delay, here’s how you can make it at your place – ingredients below the post as always.
To start, indulge yourself by spending a Sunday morning in the fish market and getting some thick fillets of a firm fish. Since I am in NZ right now, I used fillets of Trevally. However, fillets of Surmai or Rawas work well too. If you feel like treating yourself, then you could get pomfret too! Once you’re home, wash the fish well and marinate the required amount of fillets in turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt and the tandoori paste. Let this sit for about 30 minutes.
In a shallow frying pan, heat up some oil until very hot. Slowly lower your fish into the pan taking care to not splatter the oil all over your hand. Cover the pan with a glass lid and day-dream about the goodness of the fried fish in your mouth while it cooks for two minutes. When the two minutes are up, slowly turn the fish around and fry the other side as well. Test that the fish is done by inserting a knife – it should come out clean and the flesh inside should be tender to the touch.
Remove from the frying pan and onto your plate of Dhandar or Lagan Sara Stew while the fish is still sizzling. Squeeze some lemon juice on the fish and enjoy with some fresh rotis or steamed rice.
To make enough as a side for 2 people you will need:
2 thick fillets of any firm fish
1.5 tsp turmeric powder
1.5 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp tandoori fish powder (optional)
Salt to taste
Lemon juice for squeezing