Friday, December 9, 2011

Doab Fish Fry (What to do with Shan Masala)

I have a lot of recipes that are based on adding my own twist to packaged Shan Masala packets. Their qorma, chappli kabab, Sindhi biriani, and a few others are quite good but all need some adaptation to give one's own signature to a dish. Here is what I do with a box of Shan Lahori Fish Mix. Shan Lahori Fish Mix on its own is quite good but extremely salty. It is so salty that if you don't doctor it up, it is inedible. But it is quite convenient to use in that if you were to make a fish fry mix on your own you would need at least a dozen more ingredients than what I have listed below, so it saves time and effort.

I christened this recipe Doab (doh-aahb) Fish Fry since it is a confluence of Shan fish fry and my ingredients, just like a meeting of rivers in The Land of the Five Rivers, Punjab. :)

Doab Fish Fry:

1 lbs Swai fish filets cut into 2-3 inch chunks or large nuggets (or any other white, mild tasting fish like tilapia or king fish)
3 tbs vinegar
1 tsp turmeric
pinch of salt (1/8 tsp)

1 box Shan Lahori Fish Mix
1/4 cup of besan (chickpea flour) plus 2 tablespoons
4 tbs yellow cornmeal
3 pieces of garlic
1 inch of ginger
2 green chiles
2 tbs fresh cilantro finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp ajwain seeds
pinch of red or orange food coloring powder (optional, I just use it to give a festive look and also so that the end result doesn't seem like I have used Shan Masala stuff from the box or that it is just a fish pakora)
1 tsp lime juice
1 and 1/4 cups water or a little more if the batter looks too thick

oil for shallow frying


  • Wash fish well and cut into large nuggets. In a bowl, mix the vinegar, turmeric, and salt. Add fish to this and allow to marinate for 1 hour or so. The vinegar will have a slight pickling affect on the fish, so when it is battered and deep fried the fish flesh will be extra creamy and tender against the crisp batter. Yum! The vinegar also removes any unpleasant fishiness from the fish. When you are ready to fry, remove fish from vinegar, briefly rinse the fish and pat dry. 
*Tip: You can also freeze your fish nuggets in the marinade and defrost, rinse, and proceed.

  • Grind together the garlic, ginger, and green chiles to create a fine paste. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, add all of the dry ingredients into the  Shan Lahori Fish fry. Mix well. Stir in the water and the wet ingredients including the ginger-garlic-chile paste and cilantro. Add in the fish and allow to marinade for 1/2 an hour to 1 hour. 
  • Heat oil on a medium-high flame and shallow fry fish on one side, then the other.
  • Serve immediately. You may wish to garnish with a dash of chaat masala or a sprinkle of lime juice but I think it tastes amazing on its own. Serve with ketchup or meethi chutney. For my meethi chutney recipe, see here in this post.
*Tip: I wear disposable kitchen gloves when I handle the fish and wet marinade and batter because I like to mix with my hands to ensure even coating, but I hate the stains of turmeric or food coloring.