Puti Maach Er Tok is a quintessential Bengali fish curry prepared a lot during peak summer time. The curry is prepared with small variety of fish and puti maach is one of the many varieties. It is served with steamed white rice.
What is Puti Maach Er Tok
Let me break down the name of the dish first. Puti is a kind of small freshwater fish, Maach means fish in Bengali and Tok means tangy.
The selections of fish recipes that one can find in Bengali cuisine are countless. Some are spicy, some are mild, some are loaded with vegetables and others are not.
There are also various fish curries/stews that goes with the season. This simple Puti Maach Er Tok (Tangy Fish Stew) is typically prepared in peak summer months.
Kolkata summer is brutal and this tangy Puti Maach Er Tok stew helps to cool down the body and keep the tummy calm.
Ingredients you need for Puti Maach Er Tok
- Puti Maach, tiny lake water fish
- black mustard seeds
- tamarind paste or lemon juice
- green chiliv- the heat in the dish comes from fresh green chili.
- sugar – to balance the tart from tamarind or lemon juice
- finely chopped cilantro
As you can see it is not a spicy fish curry at all. It is mild, and the tangy taste is very refreshing on a warm sunny day.
Where to find Puti Maach
This particular small freshwater fish is not easily available, unless you stay in Kolkata or Bangladesh.
Out here, in US, I buy it from a local Bengali shop. They stock every kind of fish that I grew up eating. Although it is kept frozen, the fishes taste quite good. What a blessing, right? You could always try this same curry with shrimp or any other small fish that you may like.
Frying the tiny lake water fish
When crispy fried, Puti Maach tastes wonderful. The bones get brittle and so crunchy. It can make a great bite when paired with a chilled beer.
As a kid, we ate it with steamed hot rice and daal. Ma would always save some fried Maach while making the Puti Maach Er Tok. We would walk by the kitchen and gobble a couple of them because it was so hard to resist.
Puti Maach Er Tok (Tangy Fish Stew) can be prepared in several different ways and with several different fishes. However, Ma always prepares a tangy stew with only small freshwater fish. She adds the acidity using green raw mango, green tomato or tamarind.
In terms of spice, she always keeps it extremely minimalistic. It might be bizarre for many of you seeing the fish head. I am sorry if it offends you any way. We Bengalis are extremely fond of fish head.
I always remove fish heads before serving it to Arvind. The boy has learnt to eat different kind of fishes but fish head is a long shot and I don’t expect it from him.