Fish Ambal

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

5. Marinate

6. Set it aside

7. Add turmeric powder to the inch long pumpkin slices

8. Add salt

9. Marinate

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

30. Stir

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

37. Stir

38. Cover

39. Bring to a boil

40. Stir

41. Add the fried fish

42. Stir

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

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