Doi meaning yogurt and Mach meaning fish is an authentic yogurt based Bengali fish stew. It is a gently spiced fish curry that is hearty and soul satisfying. Traditionally, doi mach is prepared with long silver river fish from the region but that shouldn’t stop you from trying it with your choice of sea fish. Just make sure you select a meaty fish for the best taste. Bengali meals are almost incomplete without some fish curry/stew and when Mom and Dad visit, I over indulge on these dishes. It’s like reliving those childhood days.
Growing up in a Bengali family meant waking up listening to Rabindra Sangeet playing in the living room and watching Mom frying fishes for lunch. Things have changed a lot now since my parents eat more vegetarian meals, but there was a time when probably just two days in a week, fish was not prepared. One day was Thursday when it was a pure vegetarian meal and then on Sunday, Dad would take on the chef hat to prepare chicken or mutton. Apart from those two days, there was fish in the menu every single day. By teen years, I started disliking the taste of fish.
It was only after several years of staying away from home, not eating that classic everyday Bengali curries and especially, not eating river fish that my palate unexpectedly started craving for it. I would call mom asking for recipes and tips on how I could prepare the same dish with sea fish instead, because those regional river fishes were not available there. When we moved back to India last year, my husband who is not a Bengali was mentally ready to eat more fish then he ever did. He knew how much I was missing those particular dishes.
Unlike sea fishes, river fish has a lot of tiny bones and it’s not possible to eat it gracefully using a fork and spoon. You have to use your hands to pick those bones, as you mix the gravy with steamed white rice. There is an extreme casualness about it and we Bengalis love it!
- fish steaks, about 1 kg of fish, clean and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 to mato, roughly chopped
- 1- cup plain greek yogurt
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 green cardamoms
- 2 green chilies
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- finely chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
- Marinate the fish steaks with salt and turmeric and allow it to rest for about 15 minutes.
- In a wok or heavy bottom saucepan, heat enough oil to deep-fry the fish steaks. Drop the fish steaks carefully and fry until golden in color. Once done, keep the fried fish aside to be used later.
- In a separate pan, heat couple spoons of oil and drop the cinnamon stick along with the cardamom and let it sizzle. Next, scatter the garlic and onion. Season with salt, sprinkle turmeric and let it cook until slight golden brown in color. Now switch off the heat and transfer the cooked onion to a food processor. Leave the cinnamon stick in the pan. In the food processor, add the chopped tomatoes along with the cooked onion and blend it to a smooth paste.
- Pour the onion and tomato paste back to the pan and turn on the heat. Sprinkle cumin powder, sugar and let it cook for a couple minutes or until the raw tomato taste is gone. Once done, whisk the yogurt and pour it to the pan. Give a mix and allow it to cook. At this point, if you want more gravy, add water or else, just drop the fried fish steaks to the pan and let it simmer for a few minutes.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm with steamed rice.
- Frying the fish steaks is optional. You can add raw fish steaks in the gravy and let it simmer until they’re cooked.
- Make sure the yogurt is thick and whisked to ensure it doesn't curdle.