Quick-fix lunch

WE love surmai more than any other jal ki rani — jiska jeevan pani hai. Just because it tastes great even in the boneless avatar unlike some of the other species. The name, too, is more evocative conjuring up visions of a romantic dusk descending gently in the valleys nestling in the lap of hills or, if you please, remind you, with a tinge, maidens with kohl-lined doe-like eyes. There is a friend addicted to Urdu shayri, who insists that the name is wasted on the fish. The adjective should be reserved for gesu (dark locks of beloved’s hair) and the like. Well we think he doesn’t know what he is missing. Surmai fillets compete with betki for the preparation of macchi tikka and even the deep-fried pakora-like stuff dished out at Rajinder ka dhaba and suchlike eateries but it is seldo                       m encountered in gravy delicacies. True we have tasted a surmai kaliya but when it comes to curry, rohu regularly upstages it. Or even sole. We decided to redress the imbalance when we stumbled upon some chunks in the fridge yearning for a quick-fix light summer lunch. We had thought of cooking a Thai green curry but the ready-made paste scathe wasn’t at hand. Thus was the nirali surmai born. Try it — it is pretty good.

Surmai  Nirali

Seldom encountered in gravy delicacies, surmai nirali is sure to please connoisseurs


Surmai boneless chunks 300 gm

Coconut milk 200 ml

Onion paste 2 tbsp

Ginger garlic paste 1 tbsp

Chopped fresh coriander ¼ cup

Green chillies deseeded two

Oil 2 tbsp

Sugar (optional) 1 tsp

Limejuice 1tsp

A sprig of fresh mint

Salt to taste

Wash and pat dry the fish. Prepare a marinade by grinding together in a mixer the coriander and chillies, along with the onion and ginger-garlic pastes. Apply this to the fish and keep aside in a cool place after sprinkling salt. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and put the fish, along with the marinade.Stir-fry on medium heat gently for 3-4 minutes ensuring not to break the fish. Pour the coconut milk and reduce heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning, sprinkle the limejuice and enjoy with rice or roti.