Maas’or Tengaa – Comfort Food From Assam

Tangy Curry with Fish (Maas’or Tengaa Aanja)

Maas’or Tengaa Aanja (Maas=fish, Tengaa=Tangy, Aanja=Curry) is an integral item of Assamese cuisine and is an all-time favourite in most Assamese households. 

The Assamese people relish the freshwater fish caught from the River Brahmaputra and its tributaries. 

For this ‘Sour Fish Curry’ we can use either big fish such as Rahu/Katla (sliced) or small fish such as Paabho/Boriolaa (whole, gutted).  

One can choose from a wide variety of souring agents; namely, tomato, thekera or kokam (dried garcinia pedunculata), lemon juice, elephant apple, raw mango, olive etc for cooking this traditional tangy fish curry. 

It can also be cooked with certain indigenous fresh herbs or leafy vegetables such as tengaa moraa (roselle leaves), tengesi (sorrel), pirali paaleng(Ceylon spinach), sukaa xaak(spinach dock).

Some vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflower, bottle gourd, ridge gourd, taro etc may be added (optional) to compliment the curry. 

Tangy Fish Curry is a delight during summers and it certainly is the dish I want to come back home to after my travels. 

RECIPE: The light, flavourful dish requires very few ingredients and involves an easy, hassle-free method of cooking. 

Ingredients : 

  • Paabho/Paabda Fish (Indian Catfish) : 6 (gutted and cleaned)
  • Tomatoes (large, ripe) : 8 (thinly sliced)
  • Potato: 1 (boiled, peeled, mashed)
  • Fenugreek Seeds (Methi Seeds): 10-12 in number
  • Yellow Mustard Seeds: 1 tablespoon 
  • Mustard Oil : 3 tablespoon
  • Turmeric powder (Haldi): 1 tablespoon 
  • Salt: to taste
  • Hot water: 4 cups
  • Green Chillies: 3 (slit)
  • Lemon juice: 2 tablespoons (freshly squeezed) 
  • Coriander leaves: few sprigs, (chopped) 

Method : 

  • Marinate the fish pieces with one teaspoon salt and half tablespoon turmeric powder.
  • Heat two tablespoons mustard oil in a large, shallow frying pan. Once the oil is piping hot, add the fish (two at a time) and shallow fry them, flipping sides until done on both sides. Remove and keep aside.
  • Heat the remaining one tablespoon of mustard oil in a kadhai. When oil is piping hot, add the fenugreek seeds and allow them to sizzle. Next, add the mustard seeds and slit green chillies. Cover with lid and allow to splutter. 
  • Add the sliced tomatoes and stir. Cover and allow the tomato to cook in its own juices. Stir occasionally. 
  • When tomatoes are adequately cooked and have become mushy, add the boiled, coarsely mashed potato and mix well. 
  • Add the remaining turmeric powder and salt to taste. Stir and mix well.
  • Add the hot water.  
  • Once it comes to a boil, gently add the fried fish. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes so that the fish absorbs the flavours properly. Since this fish cooks fast, be careful not to overlook it. 
  • Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice and give a gentle stir before turning off the flame. 
  • Pour out into a flat wide serving bowl. Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with steamed rice.

Recipe contributor: Dr Monideepa Das

Feature Image Courtesy: Masala Guzarish

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