Saturday, June 16, 2007

Shad with nigella seeds and green chillies

A family friend of ours goes fishing every summer. The other day, he called my husband as he had an exceptionally large number of catches. We being true to form fish loving Bengalis could not give up the chance to have fresh fish caught the same day. So we went to his house and brought back a couple of Shad fish.

We were told it is a lot like Hilsa, but I was still amazed at how similar it tasted. I made a very light preparation using nigella seeds and green chilles. This dish is called "Kalo-jeere kaancha lonka diye macher jhol" in Bengali. It has very few ingredients and is usually prepared when the fish is very fresh. It used to be a regular dish at my home when I was growing up and I always complained to my mother about how I didn’t like it. Now as an adult I make it quite often myself, loving it each time and feeling that it is indeed one of my comfort foods!


1 shad fish (can use any other very fresh fish, but I'd recommend not using salmon). I am not sure about the wight but had about 8-9 mid sized pieces.

2 medium potatoes cut into finger size pieces

1 large or 2 small tomatoes

1 tbsp nigella seeds (also called Kalonji)

2 green chillies (more if you want)

2-3 sprigs of coriander leaves for garnish

oil for frying

salt to taste

turmeric as needed (maybe about 1 tspn)


Marinate the fish pieces in salt and turmeric for 20-30 min.

Deep fry the fish pieces and keep aside.

Heat about 2-3 tbsp oil and fry the nigella seeds and green chillies for 1 min.

Add the potatoes and fry for a few min. Then add the tomatoes and fry till the tomatos are paste like and the potatoes and about 3/4 cooked.

Add turmeric and salt.

Add the fish pieces and bring to a boil. Simmer with cover for about 7-8 minutes till the potatoes are fully cooked.

Turn off the heat, add coriander leaves and cover till served.

Goes well with rice. I like it with a few drops of fresh lime-juice along with my rice. My husband thinks it sacrilege to add anything to sour to his food. Tastes great either way!