My family, like many other Bengali families, has a real deal with fish – we eat fish almost everyday. And when we eat, we have it for lunch as well as for dinner. When there is an occasion, we eat fish. When we have nothing else to eat, we eat fish. When there is plenty of other things to eat, we still eat fish. My Jethu (dad’s elder brother) used to say “paate mach e jodi na porlo to khawa hoy ki kore” (apparently it means “the meal is not complete without fish”) and believe me, my Jethimoni (Jethu’s wife) used to cook not less than 2-3 varieties of fish each day – that was a custom at their house. I can recollect so many dishes of different fishes cooked by my Jethimoni, but I can hardly recollect any dish of Telapia. This fish was not a good choice for my Jethu’s family.
Coming to my home, Telapia has never been a hit either. Talk to Baba about Telapia and he will say “telapia baje mach, ekdom shaad na” (tilapia has no taste, it’s not a good fish). Back home, my Maa used to cook this fish on rare of the rarest occasion. Maa loves Telapia, and so do I. But, Maa usually cooks the dishes that Baba loves – it’s not forced to her, I guess it’s love 🙂 So, since Baba doesn’t prefer this fish, it has never managed to get a good place at Maa’s kitchen.
But, my kitchen is totally under my control and I cook Telapia with all my love and passion. Last night I ordered Telapia online and today morning when it got delivered, I called Maa and she suggested “begun diye jhal bana” (cook a spicy curry with eggplant) and here I am ready with this utterly delicious dish. Baba, in his usual manner said, “telapia na kine ilish kinle parte” (you could have bought Hilsa instead of Tilapia) 😀
All said all done, the end story is, I bought Telapia and cooked a spicy curry with eggplant and it tasted delicious. So, here’s the step-by-step recipe for you all.
- 6 pieces of Tilapia
- 4-5 filipino eggplant, cut into long pieces (approx 1 inch)
- 1 big sized onion, roughly chopped
- 1 big sized tomato, chopped
- 5 green chillies, (3 roughly cut and 2 slitted from middle)
- 1 tea-spoon ginger paste
- 1 tea-spoon garlic paste
- 1/2 tea-spoon cumin seeds (gota jeera/sabut jeera)
- 1 & 1/2 tea-spoon turmeric powder (haldi) (1+1/2)
- 1 tea-spoon cumin powder (jeera)
- 1 tea-spoon coriander powder (dhaniya)
- 1/2 tea-spoon red chilli powder
- 1/2 tea-spoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1/2 tea-spoon garam masala powder
- 4-5 table-spoon mustard oil (2+2)
- a handful of chopped coriander leaves
- 1/2 tea-spoon sugar
- salt (according to taste)
- 1 & 1/2 cup warm water
- Make a fine paste of chopped onion and 3 green chilles together and keep aside.
- Rub the fish pieces with salt and 1 tea-spoon turmeric powder.
- Heat 2 table-spoon oil in a pan and shallow fry the pieces until they turn light golden in colour. Remove and keep aside.
- Heat oil again and shallow fry the eggplant pieces add little salt and turmeric powder. Remove and keep aside.
- Heat the remaining oil and add cumin seeds. Allow them to splutter.
- Now, add onion paste, ginger paste and garlic paste. Sautè until the oil leaves the mixture.
- Add the slitted green chillies, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder and red chilli powder. Sprinkle a little water and stir for 1-2 minutes on low flame.
- Add chopped tomato and stir until it turns mushy.
- Now, add salt and warm water and cover the lid. Bring it to a boil.
- Open the lid and carefully add fish and eggplant pieces. Give a quick mix and cover the lid. Cook on medium to low flame for 10 minutes or until the fish is properly cooked and the gravy is thick.
- Once you get the desired consistency, turn off the flame and add sugar and chopped coriander leaves. Cover the lid again.
- Let it set for 10 minutes. Your Begun diye Telapia Jhal is ready to be served now.
Please note, Tilapia is a delicate fish and need to be fried and cooked carefully else the pieces can break.
Serve this dish with hot steamed rice and enjoy a delicious Bengali meal with your love ones. Happy eating!