I am not really sure why but in many cultures, the idea of combining fish & yogurt together is a big no-no. Well in India, this is considered a true match made in heaven! Doi Maach (Fish in Spicy Yogurt Curry) is the perfect example of this lovely marriage. This famous Indian dish hails from the picturesque state of Bengal. Bengali cuisine is famous for its delicious seafood dishes and unique combinations of bold and aromatic spices. Located in the northeastern corner of India, the Bay of Bengal provides an abundant source of both fish and shellfish.
Traditionally, this dish is made using Rohu or Indian carp but feel free to substitute your favorite type of fish (such as cod, sole, tilapia, salmon, sea bass, halibut, swordfish, monkfish, snapper…) for this recipe.
DOI MAACH (Fish in Spicy Yogurt Curry)
1 lb of fish, cut into 2” pieces (I use boneless/skinless fillets)
1 large onion, roughly chopped (grind to a paste using a food processor or blender)
1.5” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
3 large garlic cloves, finely minced
3-4 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
1 cup good quality yogurt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
½+ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
½ tsp ground coriander powder
5-6 black peppercorns
2-3 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed
1” stick of cinnamon
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper to taste
juice of ½ lime
pinch of sugar, optional
2-3 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola), you can use mustard seed oil if you wish
finely chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a small mixing bowl, combine yogurt with the garlic & ginger. Add salt, pepper & a good pinch of turmeric. Mix well to combine all of the ingredients. Now add the fish and gently mix, coat all the pieces of fish evenly in the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, you can let the fish marinate for up to 2 hours – the longer the better.
In a large deep skillet, wok or kadai on medium heat – add the oil. When hot, add the whole spices (cloves, black peppercorns, green cardamom pods, cinnamon stick & bay leaf). Let the spices toast in hot oil until they slightly darken (1-2 minutes), be careful not to let the spices burn. Now add the ground onion paste and keep stir-frying until the onions have softened and are browned. Now add the green chilies, smoked paprika, ground coriander powder, red chili powder, salt, pepper, sugar & ½ tsp of turmeric. Mix well to combine and let the spices cook with the onions for another 1-2 minutes. At this point, turn off the heat completely and allow the pan to cool down for just a couple of minutes. If you add the yogurt to a very hot pan, it will curdle. So now carefully add the fish along with the marinade and ¼ cup of water to the cooled pan and carefully mix well to combine. Now turn the heat to medium low, bring the curry up to a low simmer and let the fish cook gently in the yogurt curry for about 6-8 minutes. Finish the curry with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and garnish with cilantro leaves. The gravy should be on the thicker side for this dish, but feel free to add a little water if you prefer. Serve hot with fragrant basmati rice and fresh rotis.