photo of Fish in Mustard Curry

Bridging cultures: one mustard at a time

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It’s been so long since I last posted any recipe inspired from Assamese cuisine. Whenever I think of Assamese food, I think of our sour curries (Tenga), potato and fish pitika (mash), khar (alkaline curries), etc. And our dishes are incomplete without mustard in its different forms. Mustard is a predominant crop in Assam, and we love the mustard oil for its pungent nature. A simple meal turns delicious with a little “aloo pitika” (mashed potato) and a drizzle of mustard oil. I prefer daal tempered with mustard oil and whole spices. It adds a whole new dimension to fish as well. I feel mustard oil can actually activate a whole new bunch of taste buds. And so does the mustard paste provided it is used in the right proportion.

A few years ago, I had a sad experience on my way back home from the hostel. I was studying in another part of India, and I had to travel by train as I couldn’t afford a flight ticket then. It was a two-day long journey where conversation with fellow passengers is norm and you can’t avoid. A discussion on Assamese cuisine ensued where one of the passengers mentioned how he disliked it. I decided to keep mum and ignore. I believe food unites rather than divides, and we should be wary of the emotional bond people cultivate around food.

I, on the other hand, have embodied and understood an alien culture through its varied nuances, starting off with food while moving on it other characteristics such as music and dance.

let’s bridge cultures, one mustard at a time.

here’s my recipe for today

Photo of Fish in Mustard Curry
Recipe of Fish in Mustard Curry

Fish in Mustard Gravy

Preparation time: 20 min
Serves: 2
Cooking time: 15 min


Fish 450 gms (about 4 to 5 medium pieces)
Turmeric 1 tsp
Red chili powder ½ tsp
Cumin powder ¼ tsp
Coriander powder ¼ tsp
Yellow Mustard seeds 10 gms( 1 tbsp heaped)
Garlic 2 to 3 ( medium)
Onion 1
Green chilies 1 to 2
Yogurt 3 Tsp
Mustard oil ½ a cup + 3 tbsp
Cumin seeds ¼ tsp
Juice of half a lemon
Dried chilies 1 to 2


  1. Squeeze some lemon juice over the fish and set it aside for a few minutes. Wash and pat dry. Coat the fish pieces with a little bit of chili powder, half the turmeric, and a little salt. Fry in mustard oil till cooked through.
  2. In a blender put the soaked mustard seeds with little water, garlic, onion, and one green chili. Blend to paste. Heat the rest of the mustard oil in a different pan, add cumin seeds and dried red chilies.
  3. Add the paste and cook till you get a distinct aroma of the paste getting cooked as oil gets released from sides. Add salt, cumin powder, turmeric, and coriander powder. Mix well, add a little water if needed. Add the pieces of fish.
  4. Cover and cook for a minute or so, serve hot with rice and salad.

p.s: I used Kingfish for this recipe. any other meaty fish should work as well

fish fried in mustard oil tastes good but that’s a personal choice, you could use a lighter oil to fry the pieces


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