Monday, 13 April 2015

Ayr maas di aloo ar khomlar bakhol (Bengali Fish Curry with Potato and Orange)

Happy Monday, readers! I don't know about you, but last week flew by for me. I fully intended on posting a few more times last week, but somehow time eluded me. And it was a bit of a strange, up and down week, to be honest. 

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, I was awoken by a mosquito buzzing around my ear. I know what you're thinking, are you vacationing in some exotic resort, Abida? The answer is no, dear reader,  I'm still in the concrete jungle of London, and the temperature has hardly been sweltering. It was only when I got out of bed and looked in the mirror that I realised that I had been bit on my eyelid, and my whole left eye had swollen up as a result. I looked like something between Quasimodo and a heavyweight boxer. Not an attractive sight at all. 

I still had to go out though, much to my own trepidation, and so I tried to think of the best way to look less creepy. I tried curling the eyelashes on my swollen eye to make it look a little bigger, but when I curled my good eye, they just looked uneven again. Then I tried squinting my good eye, so at least the two matched a little, but it's surprisingly difficult to walk around in a busy city with squinted eyes. In the end, I just tried to keep my head down and minimise eye contact with other people as much as possible. Thankfully, my eye has gone back to normal now. 

Then after the Quasimodo-Eye Episode, my beloved mother accidentally threw an item that I needed into the bin. As we live in an apartment block, we have a communal rubbish storage system and so we ended up rifling through a giant metal bin trying to find said item. However, we managed to find said item in the end, so not all was lost. I'd like to say that's the only time I've ever accidentally thrown something in the bin and have had to fish it out, but it's actually happened a few more times than I care to admit. Forget misadventures in the kitchen, I think I should rename my blog to misadventures in life....

But anywho, on to the actual recipe, which I'm sure is the real reason you're here. I bring you today another traditional Bengali fish recipe. I do like my fish, and this curry makes a great meatless Monday meal. This dish uses Ayr fish, another freshwater Bengali fish which is great for the fish-phobic as it does not contain too many bones and has no scales to remove, yay! As when preparing any Bengali fish, the fish is cut into small pieces and then washed and left to soak in salted water before adding to the curry.

 The fish is paired with potato and orange peel, which although might sound a little strange, is quite a traditional combination in Bangladeshi, and especially Sylheti, home cooking.

Rather than adding only the zest, cut up pieces of orange peel are used. This adds a great citrus scent to the whole curry and the cooking process softens the orange peel and takes away any bitterness. It's a great way to jazz up a boring fish and potato dish and complements the spices in the sauce well. Even if you cannot get a hold of ayr fish, I would definitely recommend trying the potato and orange combination with another fish.

Bengali Fish Curry with Potato and Orange

Serves: 4-8  

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 30-45 minutes 

by Abida at The Red Lychee


1 small onion, or half a large onion, mashed/grated (Either using food processor or cheese grater)
3 cloves garlic
3-4 tablespoons oil
2 pieces of Ayr fish, cut into small pieces 
2-3 medium potatoes, cut into large chunks, washed and soaked in water to remove starch. 
1/4 tsp salt plus extra to season
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp curry powder
1-2 cups water
Peel of half an orange, cut into small pieces
Green chillis sliced lengthways (optional)
Chopped corriander to garnish 

1) In a large pot, add oil and allow to heat up. Add garlic, wait for it to turn slightly golden, then add the onion. Add 1/4 tsp salt and allow to cook on a medium heat for a 2-3 minutes. Stir every now and then, and add a few tablespoons of water at a time if you find the onion is catching to the pan.

2) Add turmeric, chilli powder and curry powder. Allow spices to cook off for about 2-3 minutes, and then add about a 1/4 cup of water to allow the onions and spices to soften together in a smooth base. Cover and allow to simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes. 

3) Once the curry base has softened to a smoother consistency (add a few tablespoons at a time to help it along, or if it catches to the pan) drain fish from salted water and add to the pot. Stir the fish to coat in the sauce once, and then leave be. Stirring the fish too much as it cooks will make it crumble apart. Leave fish to cook for about 5-10 minutes on a medium heat, so that any water comes out of the fish and starts to dry up. 

4) Once water from the fish has dried up, drain potatoes and add to the pot. Gently stir to coat in the sauce, without disturbing the fish too much. Leave to cook for about 3-5 minutes on a medium hat, with the lid on. Remove lid, and add enough water so that the fish and potato are just about covered. For me, that is about a coffee sized mug and half of water. Then add the orange peel. Cover, and leave to simmer to a bubble on a medium to high heat. 

5) After about 5-10 minutes, once the curry has simmered to a boil, check salt and season to taste. Add the sliced green chilli and corriander. Cover with the lid and remove from heat. Serve with plain rice. 


  1. Orange in curry! Have not tasted it yet, sounds good though!

  2. I promise it tastes just as good as it sounds!