We usually associate Kashmiri food with lamb dishes but the good news for seafood lovers is that fish has a very special place in the cuisine. Gaadh Bhaat (fish and rice) is a proper festival for Kashmiri pandits where sacrificial offering of fish is offered to the deity who is considered the Gaurdian of the House. Also special Kashmiri fish curry, Kashir or Kashmiri Gaadh, is prepared on cultural functions, like the ceremonial bath of a new born baby.

This curry is so quick to prepare and so packed full of flavour that it has become one of my most favourite fish preparations. If you have the spices in your pantry, you can serve up the dish in 20 minutes. The best thing is that there is no peeling and chopping of onions, tomatoes and garlic required. When next time you go grocery shopping, you can get these spices and grind them in double or triple the quantity given in the recipe. Save them in a jar for super quick dinner solution next time you want to make your family happy or impress your guests. This same recipe and spice mix works great for chicken too.

You might find it a bit difficult to get asafoetida if you don’t live near a South Asian grocery store. The very easy solution is to replace it with garlic and onion powder to create that strong kick of flavour that comes from asafoetida. Garam masala is simply a powdered spice blend that you can make at home too by grinding the whole spices. If you don’t have all the spices that go into this mix, go for only cinnamon, black peppercorns and cumin seeds ( I know these three are easily available everywhere) to make a shortcut version of garam masala.

If you are a seafood and curry lover, don’t miss this Kashmiri Fish Curry recipe because curry doesn’t get better than this!


For Fish Marination:

1/2 kg fish fillet
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

For Fish Curry:

1/2 inch piece dry ginger (saunth)
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
3 black cardamoms (badi alaychi)
3-4 cloves (laung)
1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder or cayenne pepper
a pinch asafoetida (hing) OR 1 teaspoon garlic and onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder (spice mix)
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
Salt to taste
4 tablespoons ghee or olive oil

This Is What You Do:

Pat dry the fish pieces and rub them with salt and turmeric. Place in a colander and leave for 15 minutes. This will eliminate the unpleasant odours, flavour the fish and drain any excess water.

Heat 2 tablespoon oil/ghee in a deep frying pan. Fry the fish pieces, 2-3 at a time, till golden on the outside. Repeat with all fish. Set aside.

In a dry mill or electric grinder, add dry ginger, fennel seeds, black cardamom and cloves. Grind to a fine powder. Mix with red chilli powder and asafoetida. If you don’t have asafoetida, use a mix of garlic and onion powder in its place.

Add the remaining oil in the same pan. Add this spice mix to the oil with a splatter of water. Sauté a few seconds. Add 2 cups of water, tamarind and salt. Cook till the curry boils.

Reduce heat to medium low, add fish to the curry. Cover the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes or till the fish is done and curry thickened a bit.

Season with garam masala and serve hot with steamed rice or pulao.

Serves 3

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