Doi Maach is a traditional Bengali fish curry that has a yogurt based gravy. It tastes mildly tangy and the spices are subtle, which makes this dish so good for hot summer days. I have shared here a great trick that will avoid yogurt from curdling when added while cooking curries.
Doi Maach literary, translated to yogurt fish, is a quick weekend fish curry. It takes roughly 20 minutes to prepare the dish, and it tastes best with steamed white rice.
Bengalis are known for their love for seafood, and I saw Ma preparing fish curry based on season. The rich curries are saved for cold winter nights and these light non-spicy fish curries are meant for warm summer days.
What variety of Fish is used to prepare Doi Maach?
The most common fish that is used to prepare this dish is rohu fish, a species of fish of the carp family. It's fresh lake water fish.
If you live in Bay Area, California then you can easily find this variety in several Indian stores that sells non-veg items. Here is one shop, I always visit to stock up on Bengali items, including seafood.
What other fish variety will work for Doi Maach ?
I have made this dish with salmon fillet too or tilapia. Except in those cases, you don't need to deep-fry the fish, instead just a quick pan fry.
You can also try the same with shrimp or king fish.
The tangy yogurt curry base is so good that you can switch up seafood with assorted veggies too. Cauliflower works amazing in this curry.
If you try a vegetarian version, please do let me know!
Adding Yogurt while cooking
If yogurt is not added the right way and at the right tome, it will curdle, and the curry will not be creamy at all. So here are few tips:
1. Use thick yogurt and whisk it until smooth
2. Always use yogurt right at the end when all the spices are cooked through. Because once you add yogurt you don't want to cook for longer.
3. Make sure the heat is medium low when you add yogurt. The high heat can curdle it easily.
4. This tip is from my Mom. She adds a bit of all-purpose flour to the yogurt while whisking. I don't know the science behind it, but it definitely helps to avoid curdling.
Bengalis love for fish!
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.
By the time I reached teenage, 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.
Fresh Lake water fish
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!
Doi Mach (Fish in Yogurt Gravy)
- 6 pieces rohu fish fillets (you can try other variety too)
- 1 teaspoon salt or as per taste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon of chili powder
- ¼ cup mustard oil
- 1 red onion
- 1 inch ginger
- 3 green chilies
- 3 cloves
- 2 small bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon nigella seeds
- ⅓ cup plain thick yogurt
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- cilantro leaves for garnish
- Marinate the fish steaks with salt and ¼ teaspoon turmeric and allow it to rest for about 15 minutes.
- In a bowl mix the rest of the turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and chili powder with little water and give a mix. Keep aside to be used later.
- Using a small blender, make the onion, ginger and 1 green chili paste.
- In a wok or heavy bottom saucepan, pour the mustard oil to fry the fishes. You can shallow fry or deep-fry. Make sure the oil is hot before you drop the fish fillets. Fry the fish fillet for 2 minutes on each side and then take it off the wok to a plate.
- Remove any excess oil and retain 2 tablespoons oil.
- Keeping the pan in medium heat, drop the bay leaf, clove, cumin seeds and nigella seeds. Let it sizzle for a few seconds, then drop the onion ginger and green chili paste.
- Stir it around and cook for 2 minutes. Season with little more salt.
- Add the spice paste that was kept aside. Mix it around. Clean the bowl where the spice paste was made with 3 tablespoons water and pour that to the pan.
- Continue cooking in medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- In a bowl, add the yogurt, flour and whisk until it's smooth with no lumps at all.
- Pour it to the pan and stir to mix it around.
- Drop the remaining two chilies to the pan (leave it whole) it's just for flavor. You can however slit it in half if you want a spicier version.
- Pour ½ cup water and mix it around. Layer the fried fish and let it simmer in medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve Doi mach warm with steamed rice.