BENGALI FISH CURRY

4 halibut, plaice or tilapia fillets (approximately 750 g/1 lb 10 oz)

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp vegetable oil

2 large white onions, thinly sliced into half moons

1 tbsp garlic paste

1½ tbsp fresh ginger paste

¼ tsp chilli powder

1 tbsp tomato purée (tomato paste)

1 x 400-ml/14-fl oz tin full-fat coconut milk

A pinch of sugar

500ml water

To garnish

Green chillis, finely sliced

Coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped

1. Place the fish fillets on a plate, sprinkle over half the ground turmeric and half the salt and rub into the fillets. Leave for a minimum of 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.

2. In a heavy-based frying pan (skillet), heat the oil over a medium– high heat.

3. Add the sliced onions to the pan and fry gently, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions from the pan, leaving as much of the oil in the pan as possible to cook the other ingredients, and place on a plate to drain. Spread the onions across the plate so they crisp as they cool.

4. You should have enough oil left in the pan to fry the fish; if not, add another 1 tbsp vegetable oil. In the same pan, flash-fry the fish fillets for 20–30 seconds on both sides to seal. Do not allow the fish to cook.

5. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside on a plate.

6. Keeping the heat at medium–high, add the garlic and ginger pastes to the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the remaining ground turmeric and the chilli powder. If the pastes stick to the base of the pan, sprinkle over some water. Add the tomato puree, 4 tbsp warm water, the remaining salt and the fried onions, then cook for few minutes until the oil has seeped to the edges of the pan. Add the water to loosen it all.

7. Return the fish fillets to the pan and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk, then immediately remove the pan from the heat and carefully turn each fillet over. Taste the coconut milk and adjust the seasoning with sugar or salt as necessary. Before serving, garnish with sliced green chillis and chopped coriander.

ALOO DUM

Serves 6–8

1 kg/2 lb 4 oz potatoes (any variety, though ordinary white waxy potatoes work best), unpeeled

1½ tsp salt

6 garlic cloves, ground to a paste

2 tbsp tomato purée (tomato paste)

½ tsp chilli powder

2 tbsp vegetable, sunflower or groundnut oil

½ tsp panchporan

A handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves,

picked or chopped, to garnish

1. Place the potatoes in a large pan that has a lid and fill with water. Add

1 tsp of the salt. Place the pan over a high heat and bring to the boil.

The cooking time for the potatoes will vary according to their variety,

size and quality.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, in a small bowl, mix together the

garlic paste, tomato pur.e, chilli powder and the remaining ½ tsp salt.

Set aside.

3. Test the potatoes to check that they are cooked. Using the point of

a sharp knife or skewer, pierce the middle of the largest potato. The

potatoes should be tender but not falling apart. Once the potatoes are

cooked, drain them in a colander and leave to cool. When they are cool

enough to handle, remove the skins from the potatoes, then cut them

into 2.5-cm/1-inch cubes and set aside.

4. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the panchporan

to the pan. Wait for the spice seeds to pop before adding the garlic,

tomato and chilli mixture. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes until the oil

separates and the mixture has darkened.

5. Add the diced potatoes to the pan and coat them well with the garlic,

tomato and spice mixture. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and cook

for 5 minutes.

6. To serve, garnish with coriander leaves.