Masor Tenga is quintessentially Assamese. We eat this delicate, tangy fish curry – Tenga means sour and Masor means with fish – in almost every summer and winter meal. One reason for this is that it isn’t complicated to make. With a handful of everyday ingredients, it can be prepared in no more than 15-20 minutes. In summer, we add fresh lime as the souring agent and in winter, wood apple or tangy robust heritage tomatoes. I would recommend Masor Tenga to anyone trying our cuisine for the first time: savour it with hot steaming rice and a crisp fritter of eggplant or pumpkin as an accompaniment.
- 4/5 fillet of Rohu fish (each weighing about 100 gm)
- 4/5 fresh tomatoes
- 2 green chillies, slit
- 2 tbsp mustard oil
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
- ½ tsp brown mustard seeds
- Salt to taste
- A few sprigs of fresh coriander, chopped
- Wash, clean and pat dry the fish fillets. Sprinkle on salt and turmeric and give it a good toss, so that the fish gets coated well.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok, and when it is starts smoking, slide in the fish fillets. Lightly brown them on both sides for a total of a minute or two. Over frying will dry out the fish.
- Next, if you want to go the traditional way, chop the tomatoes. Personally, though, I prefer to blanch the tomatoes, which removes the skin, puree them and strain to remove the seeds. The final gravy is smoother and more delicate.
- Remove the excess oil from the wok, add the brown mustard and fenugreek seeds, and let them splutter for a few seconds. Take care not to burn them.
- Toss in the slit chillies and the fresh pureed tomatoes. Stir for a few minutes until the raw smell disappears, and then add salt and 1 tsp turmeric powder. Cover and simmer for a few minutes. Pour in a cup of water, and bring to a boil.
- Gently lower the fish fillets into the gravy and, with the wok covered, simmer for another 5-7 mins. You can keep the curry light and thin, but I personally prefer it slightly thick, coating the back of my spoon. Drop in the lime juice and finely chopped coriander leaves. Simmer for a minute.
- Transfer to a serving plate. Serve with hot steaming Joha rice (a small-grained fragrant rice from Assam) and some crisp fritters on the side.