Kajoli Mach, also called Kajli, Kajuli, Kajali or Bashpata is a very delicate fish and tastes sublime. its cooked here using aubergines in a light thick sauce that adheres to the fish and aubergines in a tantalising authentic curry. The aubergines just melt in your mouth, the creaminess just adding a sublime texture to each mouthfull.
Kajoli fish is also known as Gangetic Ailia, a fresh water fish which belongs to the catfish family. This fish is typically available and popular in the Indian subcontinent.
Kajoli fish in the Uk is found in a frozen block form. It requires defrosting and thoroughly cleaning with salt but handled gently.
It has to be cooked with care since a delicate fish like Kajoli /bashpata breaks very easily. This fish is more commonly known by its name Bashpata, in reference to its appearence, that of a bamboo leaf!
It has 1 long skeletal bone that can be easily removed in one when cooked. Like most of the freshwater catfishes, bashpata mach can be cooked with or without frying. Me, I choose my method based on ingredients I use. With vegetables I pre fry. If not I mix with spices and cook all in one with fresh garnish of coriander which goes well.
I have used Nigella seeds for tempering . Nigella seeds have an awesome chemistry with onion-fish preparations. When these three ingredients meet, it smells divine. Add to that aubergine, another pairing of Nigella seeds, you know you have something special.
If you are a fish lover like me then I am sure you won’t need any other sides to complete your meal. You must try this recipe!
1 frozen block of Kajoli/Bashpata fish
1 aubergine cut into thinish strips
1 small onion finely chopped
2 green chillies finely sliced
1 tsp Nigella seeds (kalijeera)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
Pre Prep for fish and aubergine.
Rinse the fish clean once defosted.
Add turmeric, salt and chilli powder.
Mix in and set aside.
Slice the aubergines into thinish slices.
Sprinkle turmeric and salt on aubergines and set aside.
Heat some veg oil in a non stick wok/karai.
Add the aubergines and fry till they are golden brown. Don’t stir too much as they can disintergrate. Remove and set aside.
In the same pan and oil add the fish. The fish is extremely delicate so leave it and just turn once. It does not matter if they stick to each other, just give a few mintes on each side.
Move your pan to shuffle them and use a palate knife to turn.
Once lightly fried remove and set aside with the aubergines.
Mix the turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli powder in a bowl with a few tablespoons of water to make a paste.
METHOD FOR CURRY:
In the same pan add oil so that you have approximately quarter cup of oil. When hot add the nigella seeds and green sliced chillies wait till just aromatic.
Add the onions and fry till they become a little golden.
Add salt and spice paste. Cover and simmer till oil splits.
Continue to cook on low for few minutes till spices become dryer and more oil separating.
Now add a cup of water, bring to boil.
Add the aubergines and fish. Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer.
Cook covered till sauce has reduced and you have a creamy sauce.
Remove from heat and let it settle for about 5 minutes.
Serve this with plain white rice and you will be amazed by the taste of this deceptively simple Bengali fish curry!
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