There’s something utterly comforting about the food we grew up with. Mas or fish is quintessential for any Assamese. The love for fish in Assam runs deep and the richness of the cuisine reflects it.
I would gaze at the gorgeous view of the sun setting behind the Saraighat bridge, over the flowing river and the Brahmaputra valley, from my terrace. I could spend hours on end lapping up this sight. But alas, like all good things that end, this too has been snatched away by the concrete jungle of Guwahati. Oh the river oh the setting sun.
It is quite soothing to my eyes and to my lenses too. This view has always been a perfect backdrop for all the photographers in my house.
Even my Maa’s little kitchen garden looks amazing from the terrace, fresh herbs, and veggies, the marigolds, Champa, and roses. I just cannot get enough of these sights.
Looking at them, the simple Assamese delicacies using fresh herbs becomes irresistible. Moreover, after a series of lunch and dinner invitations, such simple preparation not only soothes my pallet but also my soul.
Dhania Bata Diya Mas is one such simple yet soulful Assamese fish preparation. Very light with Rou ( rohu) fish immersed in the curry with fresh flavors of coriander and green chilies. What else do you need to freshen a hearty summer meal!
- 6 pieces of rou/rohu fish. You can also go for Katla, Tilapia or even Salmon
- 1 big bunch of fresh coriander
- 3-4 fresh green chilies or any amount adjust to your level of spiciness
- 1/2 tsp nigella seed
- 1/2 tsp panch phoren ( a mix of fennel seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds, aniseeds, cumin seeds)
- 1 small onion
- 1-inch ginger
- 2 pods of garlic
- 1 for tsp turmeric powder for the curry and 1 tsp for the marination
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- Salt for seasoning
- 2 tbsp mustard plus a little more for shallowing frying the fish oil, or any regular cooking oil.
- Marinate the fish with salt and 1 tsp turmeric powder and keep it aside for 10 -15 minutes. Meanwhile, keep the other ingredients ready.
- Heat oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot enough add the fish pieces and fry them a minute on each side. Once done take out the fish pieces on a plate with kitchen paper towel.
- In a grinder, make a paste of onion, ginger, garlic. Take this paste out in a bowl and in the same jar grind the coriander leaves and green chilies with a little bit of water. Once done this will become a runny kind of paste.
- In the same pan add the remaining oil. When the oil is hot enough add the panchphoren, nigella seeds, and bayleaf. When they start crackling, add the onion ginger garlic paste. Saute it until the rawness of onion ginger and garlic is gone. Add the cumin and turmeric powder into it. Saute until well combined.
- Add the coriander- chili paste into the onion ginger garlic masala with enough water to give a curry consistency and season with salt. When the curry starts boiling, drop in the fried fish pieces. Lower the heat, cover and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Garnish with some ginger juliennes and chopped fresh coriander. Serve hot on a plate of steamed rice