The word ambal came from “amlo”, which is sour in English. In Bengali cuisine, ambal is a sour dish, like chutney, that is served between the main course and dessert. And since fish is a staple in the Bengal region, people here have used fish to cook the ambal. So ilish Ambal is a sour and sweet recipe with the hilsa fish. And it is a dish that the whole family can enjoy.
The recipe has 3 basic steps:
1. First fry the fish
2. Then sautee the pumpkin with mustard seed
3. And finally mix with tamarind water and cook with the fish.
1. Take 2-3 tbsp washed shelled tamarind
2. Add one cup of water and set it aside to soak for at least 10 minutes
3. Add turmeric powder to the fish
4. Add salt
6. Set it aside
7. Add turmeric powder to the inch long pumpkin slices
8. Add salt
10. And set this aside as well
11. Mash up the soaked tamarind
12. Remove the seeds and other solids parts as much as possible to get the juice. In Bengali this thick pulp is called ‘kath’
13. Set the juice aside.
14. Turn on a stove
15. Place a wok
16. Add oil
17. Spread the oil in the wok
18. When the oil is hot
19. Add the fish
20. Cover it if the oil splatters
21. Fry for about a minute; do not fry it completely as you would do when making fish curry
22. Turn it over
23. Fry this side for a minute as well
24. Remove it from oil and set it aside
25. Add dry red chilies
26. Add mustard seed
27. If you wish you can add the dry chili after the mustard seed
28. Allow the mustard seed to complete crackling
29. Add the pumpkin
31. Turn over to fry the other sides
32. Continue stirring till the pumpkin turns brown
33. Add the tamarind juice
34. Add about ¾ cup of water
35. Mix together
36. Add ½ tsp of turmeric powder
39. Bring to a boil
41. Add the fried fish
43. Add salt
44. Add brown sugar or jaggery
46. The amount of salt and the sugar depends on one’s taste.
47. You may want to add salt and sugar in portions till you get the desired saltness and sweetness.
48. Bring to a boil
49. Check to make sure the pumpkin has softened.
50. And boil it to desired consistency
51. Turn off the heat.
This completes the fish ambal. It takes about 40 to 45 minutes. And is enough for 2 to 3 people. Serve it hot with rice after the main dish