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Oct 12, 2009 08:07 AM

October COTM Adjunct: Reports on Recipes from Other Julie Sahni and Madhur Jaffrey Books

‘Pickled’ Bluefish (“A Taste of India,” Michael Joseph edition © 1985, page 205)

Can’t imagine how this recipe came by it’s name (which sounds pretty awful to me). As Jaffrey says, it’s “not really pickled—just prepared in a tart and hot sauce.”

The marinade is a combination of tamarind paste, cayenne pepper, crushed garlic, and grated ginger. This is spread on lightly salted bluefish (or mackerel) fillets and allowed to marinate for an hour before being broiled. She suggests 8 minutes; mine took 10. The cooked fillets should be sprinkled with chopped cilantro, but I didn’t have any.

I’m conflicted about this recipe. The marinade was excellent: a hint of sweet, a hint of spicy, and what could be wrong with garlic and ginger. But I thought it somewhat overwhelmed the flavor of the bluefish. It may have been my fault, since I eyed rather than measured the ingredients and may have overdone it slightly. Or, it may just be that fond as I am of fresh bluefish, I prefer it more simply prepared.

I’d be curious to know what others who may have tried this think about it.

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  1. Gingery Cauliflower Soup
    Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cookery, page 16
    (BBC Books, 1994 edition)
    (The book specifies 6 oz onions, 8 oz each cauliflower and potatoes, and a range for the chilli powder.)

    The book title is correct -- very quick and easy to prepare. I used less water than called for, and the texture was so creamy that I decided to omit the cream, although I had planned to include it. The flavour was simply lovely, and although it tastes Indian, not so much that it wouldn't be at home in non-Asian meals as well.

    (The garnish = chillies from the CSA. They're so hot I don't know what else to do with them.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Channa

      Quick and easy is about my speed these days, and I've been looking for something to do with my CSA cauliflower, so, this might be on the docket for me tonight!

      Thanks for reporting on this!


    2. Well, the sauce sounds heavenly! Thanks for starting this thread, JoanN!

      I may eventually try this pickled bluefish recipe, though I have a Sahni recipe from MM I've promised myself I'd try before I try anything else. But, if they have bluefish or mackerel, well, I might just try this instead.

      What did you use for the tamarind paste? Did you grind your own from tamarind root? I'm sorry if this is a dumb question. I'm just dipping my toe into Indian cookery...

      Also, are those roasted potatoes on the side from either Jaffrey or Sahni? They look good, too!


      1 Reply
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        The sauce really was good. I may have to make this again using the specified proportions of ingredients and see if I follow the directions (!?!) the flavor of the bluefish isn't overwhelmed by it.

        I was using a lot of tamarind paste for recipes from "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" and still had some frozen cubes of it in the freezer. You can buy packages of sticky tamarind pulp in most Asian markets. The pulp needs to be simmered in water for 10 minutes (this is Andrea Nguyen's method) then set aside to rest for 30 minutes before dumping all of it into a colander over a bowl and pressing on the pulp to extract the liquid. Jaffrey suggests using this method only in an emergency. She recommends letting the pulp sit in hot water overnight. I may have to try that some time and see if it makes much of a difference. It's also interesting that Jaffrey calls the result a "paste" whereas Nguyen calls it a "liquid." Either way, it freezes beautifully so it's easy to keep on hand once you've made a batch of it.

        And, yes, those potatoes are from the Sahni book. I reported on them here:

      2. I have no idea what bluefish tastes like, but I think this would be great with oily mackerel. I have this book and will give this recipe a try - thanks for the report.

        3 Replies
        1. re: greedygirl

          Yeah, we rarely see mackerel here in the States because most folks don't like fish that tastes "fishy". Fish should only be deep fried and served with loads of tartar sauce to kill any leftover fishy taste.

          Of course this is not true on Chowhound.

          1. re: oakjoan

            "we rarely see mackerel here in the States"

            I think that's a left coast/right coast issue. We see a lot of mackerel, both Atlantic and Spanish, here on the east coast--especially now in the fall and early winter. Because of it's moderately high fat content, Atlantic mackerel doesn't travel particularly well. It develops that strong "fishy" flavor if it hasn't been iced immediately after being caught. When I buy mackerel from the dayboat fisherman at the farmer's market, it's full-flavored, but not--at least to my mind--in a negative way. It's oiliness is what makes it such a great fish for grilling and broiling.

            1. re: JoanN

              Yeah, I have to say, I've been seeing a lot of mackerel lately at our WFs, and I'm thrilled about it since I've recently fallen in love with it. Fantastic grilled. I'm speaking as an east coaster.

        2. Better late than never:

          Steamed fish in ginger-thyme essence (bhappa mach) from pg 81, Sahni's "Moghul Microwave"

          Hey, this wasn't bad at all. We had 3 large haddock fillets, sliced in half length-ways, which we rubbed with grated fresh ginger, garlic, kosher salt, lemon juice, thyme, and white pepper. Then we rolled them up into little spirals, stuck a toothpick through them to hold them together. At this point we were supposed to wrap them with a sprig of cilantro, but I didn't buy any because I thought I had some at home (which I did not, unfortunately). So, we just moved on to the next step, which was to zap them for 2 minutes, turn them over, zap them 2 minutes more. Ours still wasn't done, so we flipped them over and zapped them 1 minute more. Then, you sprinkle it with fresh grated carrots. We served ours over basmati rice.

          My husband took one bite of the fish and said, "This fish is awesome!" I was blown away because he was so disgusted when I told him we were having microwave fish for dinner. But, it was moist and flaky and very delicately flavored, perhaps too delicate, although, we had an extra quarter pound of fish and no cilantro, so, perhaps those were crucial mistakes. I wouldn't have wanted much bolder--just a smidge--so these minor adjustments may have been the difference.

          Anyway, I'm very encouraged. This was super easy, super fast, and very healthful. No photo because I was tired and hungry and it just didn't look that pretty. I'll try next time, though. I'll try this again for sure.

          One thing I didn't notice in the direction was whether we were supposed to remove the skin (I did not). I will for sure next time.


          2 Replies
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Oh, I'm a goof. I just looked at the ingredient listing for the above recipe and it clearly says to use skinless fillets. Oh well! Live and learn. I suppose this affected the way the fish absorbed the spices, too.


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              but typically the skin will provide more flavor.

          2. Indian Rice Pudding (Kheer)
            Madhur Jaffrey, BBC online

            Here's a link to the recipe and a video of Madhur Jaffrey cooking it:


            This is a time-consuming recipe, but it worked well. Milk, green cardamom pods, and basmati are simmered for well over an hour, with VERY frequent stirring, until the mixture is reduced by half. Sugar and chopped pistachios are added, then it's chilled.

            If you make this, keep in mind that British pints are 20 oz, so you'd use 5 cups of milk, not 4.

            This was less sweet than some, but sweet enough. I prefer it with rose water flavouring, but Mr Channa doesn't, so this suited him. After eating his portion, he went directly to the serving bowl and finished it all! Then I mentioned that it had required vigilance and stirring over 75 minutes, and he said -- "Are you crazy???" That sums it up nicely.

            So, all in all, this is basic, and tasty, but I'm not sure it's worth the time and effort when there are easier recipes to be found.