Bengali Fish Curry with Ginger, Nigella Seeds and Winter Squash

October  3, 2016
2 Ratings
Photo by Rinku Bhattacharya /Spice Chronicles
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

This recipe is an adaptation of the simple fish curry of my childhood. On the Bengali table, fish is the preferred protein of choice. It is enjoyed cooked simply, like this recipe. Often slow simmered with a few seasonal vegetables and served over rice it is the everyday fare that I grew up with. My mother and grandmother cooked a curry like this several times a week, varying it ever so slightly to accommodate the catch of the day or the produce of the season.

When I want comfort, I conjure this simple dish. The bright notes of ginger, green chili and nigella seeds tell me that all will be well, even on a dark day.
Any firm fleshed white fish is suitable for this recipe. My go to, us usually cubed cod fish. Sometimes for a little more indulgence I add in some coconut milk.

You can read more about the dish, should you choose to here.

Notes: The preferred cooking oil for a recipe like this is mustard oil, but you can substitute with coconut or other vegetable oil.
The onion can be grated using the large side of a box grater, or a food processor. —Rinku Bhattacharya /Spice Chronicles

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons Oil (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 medium sized red onion, grated (see note)
  • 1 dried red chili
  • 1 medium sized tomato, diced
  • 1 cup acorn or butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium sized potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 pound fish fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 green chilies such as serrano
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons lime or lemon juice (about 1 medium sized lime)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  1. Heat the oil for about 2 minutes until almost smoking and add in the whole cumin seeds and nigella seeds and allow the seeds to sizzle.
  2. Add in the ginger and the onion and cook on medium heat stirring frequently for about 6 minutes until the onion is soft, wilted and beginning to turn golden on the sides. Stir in the dried red chili.
  3. Add in the squash, potato, turmeric and salt with 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and cover and cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are mostly tender.
  4. Carefully add in the fish and the green chilies and cook for another 5 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and flaky.
  5. Add in the coconut milk if using and stir well.
  6. Sprinkle with the lime juice and cilantro.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nalan Kara Nane
    Nalan Kara Nane
  • FieldandFurrow
  • llott0
  • Joost

5 Reviews

llott0 February 9, 2022
Many ingredients listed are not used. Many ingredients described but not listed. The recipe looks like it could be good, just needs serious editing.
Joost April 24, 2019
The ingredients list ginger, which then never appears in the instructions. The instructions mention tomatoes and coconut milk, neither of which were in the list of ingredients, meaning I didn't buy them and now can't make the recipe. A little disappointing.
Nalan K. February 8, 2017
Please correct the recipe for the tomatoes.
FieldandFurrow November 11, 2016
Tomatoes are in the instructions but not included in the ingredients list....
BellaRasa October 4, 2016
Rinku, this looks delicious and I planning to make it tomorrow. Adding coconut milk is in the instructions, but not in the list of the ingredients. I do not have the nigella seeds but I will drop by the Indian market today and hopefully will find them. Thanks for the recipe!