Rich, spicy, fresh and comforting, this is what Tel Koi to me! No special story, no heirloom recipe but a simple Fish curry prepared with “Koi Mach”, a winter delicacy. It is not that Koi Mach is not available in other season but obviously winter is the best season to enjoy the blackish fish. By the way, Pasta loves Koi Mach! Actually, she is having it since she was two years old! Given Koi Mach is full of bone my mother often advised me to not to give it to her but I found her cherishing Koi and hence I ignore Mom’s advice though with good care!
I was initially thinking to not to write any typical story but then this happened :)! Well, I was searching for the English name for Koi Mach. I found there is an article about Japanese Koi or Amor Carp which are not edible and an aquarium fish. Though the names are same Indian Koi is completely different than Amor Carp. I asked a friend, Chandan Gupta who is a Fish learned. Chandan da replied, “how about Prem! If Japanese Koi is Amor why not ours is Amore!” In fact, why not! Tel Koi is actually all love ;). However, Chandan da helped me with the name; Climbing Perch it is; scientifically known as Anabas testudineus.
Reason behind the name; Tel Koi!
Coming back to the quintessential Bengali fish curry, Tel Koi, there is again another detail worth sharing. I have a humble collection of food-related books and that includes a Bengali cookbook by Tripti Dasgupta. The lady wrote about her experience with Tel Koi there. She wrote there, Tel Koi is not about Koi fish curry loaded with Oil (mustard Oil in this case)! According to her The “Tel” in Tel Koi is actually the oil that secretes from the fish itself! I found this information really interesting. In fact, upon reading her book, I started checking the Koi Mach whenever I cook whether it is secreting oil or not! I found it actually is true! Whenever the fish is fresh enough it secretes oil!
Now coming to the recipe of Tel Koi I actually have seen people cooking it using onion and garlic and at times without onion and garlic. I prefer to cook Tel Koi without Onion and Garlic. I feel the use of Onion and garlic suppress the natural flavor of Koi Mach. Mine is a simple recipe with Ginger and Cumin paste and obviously Mustard Oil. Last but not the least, I prefer relatively smaller Koi Mach.
Here’s how I make Tel Koi at Debjanir Rannaghar!
- Serves: 4 People
- Serving size: 150g
- Calories: 355
- Fat: 24.1g
- Saturated fat: 4.3g
- Carbohydrates: 24.4g
- Sugar: 5.4g
- Sodium: 927mg
- Fiber: 1.6g
- Protein: 11.6g
- Cholesterol: 28mg
- Koi Mach / Koi Fish: 8
- Ginger Paste: 1 Tbsp.
- Tomato Paste: 3 Tbsp.
- Green Chilli: 3-4
- Cumin Powder: 1 Tsp.
- Turmeric Powder: 2 Tsp.
- Red Chilli Powder: 1 Tsp.
- Dry Red Chili: 4
- Kalojire/ Kalonji/ Nigella Seed: ½ Tsp.
- Sugar: 1 Tsp.
- Salt: to taste
- Mustard Oil: 4 Tbsp.
- Tel Koi is prepared with whole Fish. Hence the use processed whole Koi Mach is what we need to do!
- Take Ginger Paste, Tomato Paste, Cumin Powder, 1 tsp. Turmeric Powder, Red Chilli Powder, Sugar, and Salt along with 1 Tsp. of Oil and mix those to make a paste.
- Wash Koi Mach and marinate with ¼ Tsp. each of Turmeric powder and Salt and also a few drops of mustard oil and leave the marinated fish for 30 minutes.
- Now heat 3 Tbsp. Oil in a deep pan and sprinkle little salt and turmeric powder to the oil
- Fry the fishes from both sides lightly.
- Strain fishes from Oil.
- Now temper remaining oil with Nigella Seed and Dry red Chilli and keep the flame low.
- Add spice paste and start cooking in low flame for around 5 minutes or till the spices start leaving the edge of the pan.
- Add slit Green Chili as well.
- The spice paste will release oil once properly cooked.
- Add 3 cups of water and bring it to boil.
- Add fried Koi Mach and cook until the gravy thickens.
A few Cilantro leaves can be added for flavor.
Fish Recipes from Debjanir Rannaghar apart from Tel Koi:
- Doodh Mach (also known as fish cooked with milk)
- Ilish Macher Korma (also known as Hilsa korma)
- Bhetki Macher Dum (also known as baramundi dum)
- Piajkoli ar Aloo diye Tangra Macher Jhol (also known asBengali Light fish curry prepared with Tyangra Maach, Onion Stalks and Potato)
- Chingri Bati Chorchori (also known as Chingri Macher Batichorchori)
- Tyangra Macher Aloo Begun o Bori diye Jhol (also known as tangra curry with veggies and lentil dumpling)
- Doi Maach (also known as fish in curd)
Have you tried the Tel Koi Recipe from Debjanir Rannaghar!
Do let me know how it came out. Also, I would love to see a picture of the same which you can share here on firstname.lastname@example.org or in Instagram you can use my hashtag #debjanirrannaghar or can tag me at @foodofdebjani.