Thursday, March 29, 2007

Macher Jhal (Fried Tilapia in a Spicy Mustard Sauce)

After a failed attempt in cooking Macher Jhal in Florida using pure engineering instincts without parental supervision, I resorted to what we engineers consider a last resort: get a consultant. The reason of my failure is that I used the British method of cooking macher jhal, which uses english mustard to substitute for the hand-ground mustard seeds (works fantastically only in England). USA loves french style mustard sauce, so the english mustard that I bought was heavy on preservatives. I fried some fish and made the gravy using the preservative rich english mustard and possibly cooked the worst meal in my history. Living with roommates during my master's and having no money for outside food, we (my roommates and I) got pretty proficient at cooking good. We never tried macher jhal though.

My mom visited me for two months this year and she did her own little research to make mustard paste from mustard seeds. Here is how she did it and how I did it last night:

  1. Buy a coffee grinder ($14 at Publix) and grind your mustard seeds to a powder.
  2. Put the powder in a bowl and add water. Mix it. Strain the mustard pieces out.
  3. Fry fish of choice. I used Tilapia fillets.
  4. In a sauce pan, heat oil, add green chillies, add onions and fry till brown. I prefer red onions and you can use it if you wish to feel your eyes being sucked out of their sockets.
  5. Add the mustard strained water to it, add turmeric powder and salt to taste.
  6. Add the fish and let simmer.
  7. Serve over steamed rice.
  8. Enjoy, hopefully.
I am not a cook and having recipes here in my blog is certainly not a trend. All I want to do is share the americanized method of cooking Macher Jhal so my fellow Bengalis (and Bengali food lovers) can feel at home.

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