Archive for May, 2012

Salmon cooked in mustard

Bengalis are obsessed with fish.  No surprise really as the land (West Bengal and Bangladesh) is permeated with thousands of rivers and freshwater lakes.  But using the word ‘obsession’ is not an exaggeration.  It is common for Bengali families in India to have fish in various preparations twice a day. Yes, you read correctly: two times every day.  Having lived abroad for so long and eating so many types of other food, eating this much fish on our annual visits back to India always takes getting used to.  Also, while I love fish, the exactness and thoroughness with which other Bongs eat fish is a sight to behold.  Heads, tails, the fatty bits are all consumed with relish and the flesh is painstakingly chewed upon to expertly remove the bones.  And then the fingers are licked clean with satisfaction.  A job well done.

The recipe I’m about to write out involves cooking the fish in mustard, the favoured way to cook fish the Bengali way.  Usually freshwater fish such as hilsa, rohu are used but while these fish are available in Asian food stores here, they usually come frozen which spoils the taste.  So whenever Maa cooks fish Bengali style, she tends to use fish that is freshly available like salmon and seabass.

A couple of other things to point out with this particular recipe.  It has Maa’s unique touches which make it all the more delicious. This is a fact.  Firstly she adds yoghurt to the mustard paste, which brings out the flavour of the mustard and gives the paste a slight hint of tanginess.  She also adds grated coconut.  And in terms of cooking, this recipe involves baking or steaming.  A more healthy.  But you can also fry the fish, pour over the sauce, add chilli, turmeric, salt and then simmer until fish is cooked and sauce is reduced.  Here goes:

The fish in the paste before going into the oven for baking

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes


  • 4x salmon fillets (cut in half so each section gets best chance to absorb the mixture)
  • 15g mustard powder
  • 15ml Colman’s mustard
  • 1.5tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1.5 tbsp yoghurt
  • 1tbsp grated coconut (if dessicated, soak in boiling water and cover)
  • 4 green chillies (slit just the top part)


  • Set oven to 180C (A lowish temperature is used as yoghurt curdles on higher heat)
  • For the mustard paste: slowly add water to the mustard powder until it becomes a paste-like consistency.  Add salt. Leave for 10 minutes to ensure no bitterness.  Then mix in the Colman’s mustard
  • In an oven-proof dish, put the chillies in.  Add the oil, the yoghurt, coconut and mix together.  Then add the mustard paste. A dash of salt and then mix
  • Add the salmon fillets to the oven-proof dish and mix them well with the mustard marinade.
  • Cover the dish with foil
  • Put in oven for 15-20 minutes.
  • Serve with rice

Note that this isn’t a dish with lots of gravy but it makes up for it with maximum flavour impact!


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