Top 5 Bangladeshi Inspired Fish Curry Soups

There are so many dishes to choose from! DESIblitz presents 5 exotic fish curry soups inspired by Bangladesh that are irresistible and so simple to make.

Bangladeshi Inspired Fish Soups

You can cook this fish with citruses, ami (mango), or jolpai (olives)

Bangladesh’s fish curry dishes are luxuriously flavourful when in soup form.

The warming sensation and delicate spicing make these dishes a popular choice for many Desi households.

In particular, Sylhet’s soup dishes are infused with rare citruses, berries and herbs. The offer a unique taste sensation when combined with traditional fish.

DESIblitz presents five different types of fishes with special fruits and berries that can turn a simple dish into something incredible.

These are traditional fish curry soup recipes that have been passed down through generations.

Ilish Fish with Dried Mangoes (Ami)

Ilish is the national fish of Bangladesh and is usually served at the most important of occasions. It is a bony fish which is both tender and light and requires absolute care when cooking.

Usually, ilish is pan-fried in turmeric and then added to the soup to stop the fish from breaking apart.

Ami is made of dried mangoes which have been cured with spices and dried over months in the sun to harden.

When ilish and ami are brought together in a soup, the soup becomes both sour and spicy. A taste you cannot replicate with any other fish and a taste you will never forget.

However, ami is rare to find and is often prepared during the mango season by villagers. When dried in the sun, the mango turns black in colour– giving ami a very long shelf life.

A replacement for ami can be sour green mangoes as they have similar sour properties.

Ingredients:

  • 6 pieces of ilish fish
  • Handful of ami or half a green mango (thinly sliced)
  • Grated garlic
  • Finely chopped onions
  • Paprika (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Salt (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Curry powder (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Turmeric (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Cumin (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Coriander (small handful)
  • 1 chopped chilli

Method:

Preparing the fish:

  1. Put the pieces of fish in a bowl filled with 2 teaspoons of salt and water
  2. Wait for five minutes and then wash the fish until all the salt is removed
  3. Take a frying pan and add vegetable oil
  4. Add a teaspoon of turmeric and stir into the oil
  5. Add the fish and gently sear both sides
  6. Once gold in colour, remove from heat

Curry Soup:

  1. Add crushed garlic and chopped onions to heated oil
  2. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and turmeric
  3. Stir the mixture until garlic is golden brown
  4. Add ½ teaspoon of curry powder, cumin and paprika
  5. stir the mixture and add ami or green mangos
  6. Add the pieces of illish and 3 cups of boiled water
  7. Let the soup simmer for 20 – 30 minutes
  8. Taste the soup for salt and take off heat

Served your Ilish Fish and Ami with white rice or sticky rice.

Chital Fish and Asian Olives

Chital fish is soft and chewy. It is often purchased minced and combined with onions and salt to form fish balls. However, it is available as a whole fish but might prove to be a challenge to fillet and mince yourself.

Chital is added after the soup base has been made; again, due to being delicate and so that it can absorb the flavours of the soup.

Asian olives are a must for this recipe and cannot be substituted with European olives as the taste differs. These olives are called jolpai (belfoi) in standard Bengali and are very sour.

In England, many South Asian supermarkets import fresh jolpai in the Autumn season. But they are available frozen throughout the year.

Jolpai is often found with a dark green peel and slightly grey on the inside. The olive is sliced from the two sides, leaving a third piece which contains the seed and added just before the fish.

Always make sure you don’t add too much water or paprika.

Ingredients:

  • Minced chital fish
  • 6 jolpais (sliced)
  • Two cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • Curry powder (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Turmeric (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Cumin (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Paprika (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 Tomatoes (optional)

Method:

  1. Take the minced fish, mix in salt and onions
  2. Leave aside
  3. Heat up vegetable oil, add chopped garlic and diced onions
  4. Do not add salt as there is salt in the fish mixture
  5. Add turmeric and stir the mixture
  6. Wait for onions to cook through
  7. Add the curry powder, cumin and paprika
  8. Add the jolpai and tomatoes
  9. Pour in 3 cups of boiling water
  10. Take small amount of fish and roll it into a ball
  11. Place the fish gently into the pan
  12. Let the fish balls simmer with the soup base for 20 minutes
  13. Take off the heat

Serve piping hot. The dish tastes great with thick slices of bread and long white rice.

You can also eat it with South Asian sticky rice.

Ayer Fish with Jujube Berries

Ayer fish is an everyday fish like salmon or tuna. It is always available, really big in size and not too bony. You can cook this fish with citruses, ami, or jolpai but we recommend you should try ayer with fresh jujube berries.

In Bangladesh, jujube berries are called boroi and sold dried, as a chutney or as a puree. Many villagers have their own jujube trees which are sky high like coconut trees.

There are two types of jujube berries: a really sweet one that resembles a large grape (bilati boroi), and small round ones that resemble cherries.

Make sure they are not red as that means they have become too ripe and will be sweet, but also melt into the soup.

Ayer can be enjoyed alone or with white rice.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pieces of ayer
  • Turmeric (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Paprika (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Curry powder (1 teaspoon)
  • Salt (1 teaspoon)
  • Green jujube berries or dried (boroi)
  • Pureed garlic
  • Finely chopped onion (1/4)
  • Coriander
  • 1 chopped chilli (optional)

Method:

Preparing the fish:

  1. Put the pieces of fish in a bowl filled with 2 teaspoons of salt and water.
  2. Wait for five minutes and then wash the fish until all the salt is removed.
  3. Take a frying pan and add vegetable oil
  4. Add a teaspoon of turmeric and stir into the oil
  5. Add the fish and gently seer both sides.
  6. Once golden colour, remove from heat.

The Curry Soup:

  1. Add vegetable oil (enough to cover the base of the pan)
  2. Add onions, garlic, salt and turmeric
  3. Stir the mixture until caramelised and set the heat to low
  4. Add the jujube berries, fish, paprika and curry powder
  5. Stir the mixture and add a cup of boiling water (or enough to cover the fish)
  6. Close the lid and let it simmer for 20 minutes
  7. Add the cilantro and chopped chilli
  8. Give a gentle stir and remove from heat after 2 minutes

Serve hot and enjoy with rice.

For added flavour, you can try Patak’s mixed pickle.

Mrigal Fish with Exotic Citrus Fruit (Shatkora)

Mrigal is similar to Ayer and many cannot tell the difference between the two when cooked. This fish is used to make spicy but citrusy flavoured soup.

Shatkora, or hatkhora, is an exotic lime which is adored by local villagers.

The fruit has a nice bite to it and binds well with the fish. You should only add a slice of the fruit as the fruit itself is very intense and too much can make the soup rather bitter.

Ingredients:

  • 6 pieces of mrigal fish
  • 1 slice of Shatkora (cut into 4 pieces)
  • Curry powder (1 teaspoon)
  • Cumin (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Paprika (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Turmeric (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)

Method:

  1. In heated oil, add garlic, onions and salt
  2. Let the mixture become golden brown (low heat)
  3. Mix in the turmeric
  4. Add curry powder, cumin, paprika
  5. Stir the mixture and wait for 5 minutes
  6. Then add the fish
  7. Let the fish sweat
  8. Once the excess water has evaporated
  9. Add the pieces of Shatkora
  10. Add boiling water (enough to cover the fish)
  11. Simmer for 20 minutes (low heat)
  12. Remove from heat

This soup is to be enjoyed piping hot and tastes best with white rice.

Keski Fish with Orange Peel

Sounds a little experimental but Keski Fish with Orange Peel is truly a local soup.

Sometimes referred to as “thitna mas” which translates into tiny fish due to its size, and when cooked carries a zesty flavour.

So, the next time you pick up an orange, remember to keep the peels and leave them to dry. You can put orange peels in a small colander and leave it over the radiator to speed up the process.

When you add the orange peels into the soup, they will become soft and melt into your mouth. Here is the perfect traditional recipe from Afelia’s kitchen.

It’s your turn now to pick a fish curry recipe and treat yourself to a Bangladeshi village speciality.

We wonder, which soup will you try making first? Or, perhaps you could upgrade your fish recipe with some of these exotic fruits and citruses!

Rez is a marketing graduate who loves to write crime fiction. A curious individual with a heart of lion. She has a passion for 19th-century sci-fi literature, superhero movies and comics. Her motto: “Never give up on your dreams.”

Images courtesy of Bethica Das, Manidipa's Kitchen, The Spoontress, Cooking Kingdom, Jolika Ahmed and Afelia's Kitchen


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