Fish Recipes

Dunt Dalun Chin Hin- Burmese Drumstick Sour Soup

Moringa_oleifera etching JS
Bengalis and South Indians have always used drumsticks in their food. In a Bhaja in the east and in Avials and Sambars in the South where  the murungakkai is a familiar ingredient with its three sided pod filled with flesh and seeds. Not a lot of people know however that the drumstick tree, Moringa oleifera, is a goldmine as it has several other edible parts all of which have wonderful nutritional and medicinal properties. Our ancestors did though…it is recorded in ancients Sanskrit texts that the leaves are an antidote to 300 diseases! They are believed to have antibiotic properties and are anti carcinogenic.

There are tales of miraculous cures through the use of the drumstick tree and it is no coincidence that many kitchen gardens in rural areas feature a hedge of Moringa Oleifera.

Since the tree needs lots of sun , is hardy and drought resistant, surviving as it does on rainwater and poor soil, it is a perfect for conditions in many parts of this country and is a boon to people in this part of the world. A gift which has, unfortunately, been ignored and largely under exploited .

Known as Mothers best friend , Tree of Life, and a Miracle tree in Africa,  Moringa is actually indigenous to the foothills of the Himalayas  but it grows just as well in the plains .The Jaffna and Chavakacheri murunga  varieties  are cultivated in the south to produce long fruits. The Chemurunga variety has red tipped fruits and a high yield. Other varieties like the Palmurungai  produce fleshy but bitter fruit .

The leaves are available throughout the year and are used as a vegetable. They contain seven times the vitamin C in oranges, two times the protein in milk, four times the vitamin A in carrots, four times the Calcium in milk and three times the Potassium in bananas.
They can be eaten fresh or sautéed which makes them a rich source of nutrients. Mixed with grated coconut, red chilli powder, some shallots, mustard seeds and   cumin powder it makes the Kerala Thoran. Tamilians and Sri Lankans saute the greens with prawns and fish for a fabulously fresh tasting dish. The leaf can also be dried and powdered and added to other dishes.

The fragrant yellowish white flowers and buds can be eaten as a vegetable. They do, however , need some cooking .They have a very delicate texture, are tender and succulent and will add interest to everything from an omelette to a sauce. Try cooking them with a bit of butter, garlic and salt for a side dish. The flowers and buds are also steeped in boiling water to make a lightly flavoured tea that is supposed to be a tonic and good for colds.

Drumstick seeds when immature are cooked in curries, or roasted or fried and eaten like peanuts  or dried and powdered for use as a tea. Mature seeds are used to make Ben Oil or Moringa oil, a non sticky edible oil which has a light aroma and works well in salads.

The Moringa tree was also known as the Horseradish tree since the roots taste a lot like that condiment. After peeling and drying the root was grated and used in vinegar as a pungent relish. Today this is being discouraged as it contains alkaloids which can be toxic.

Any use of the leaves and pods is to be encouraged as its nutritonal value is astounding when compared to any other greens available.

Here is a  Burmese recipe for a  delicious drumstick and fish sour soup: Dunt  Dalun  Chin Hin


2 tsp sesame oil/ til oil

1 onion, finely sliced lengthwise

2 cloves garlic, crushed

¼ tsp turmeric

3 tomatoes (green if possible)

1 cup torn spinach or other greens

2 cups drumsticks cut into 3” pieces and parboiled.

4-6 cups fish stock or boiling water

200 gms fish pieces.

¼ tsp dried shrimp paste(ngapi) or use a few dried shrimp.

Salt to taste


Method: Heat oil in a pan and fry onion and garlic. Add the tomatoes and spinach and turn heat down. Stir in the turmeric and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil. Add the drumstick pieces  and the shrimp paste .Cook for ten minutes till all flavours  blend. Add fish pieces and simmer for 5 minutes more.

You can add noodles to the soup to make this a one dish dinner.

Surmai Orientally speaking


Marinating surmai

The most popular cuisine in India other than our own is Chinese . Now Thai comes a close second. It is amazing to see how even the most conservative of consumers has taken to Oriental food , like a fish to water.Thai restaurants abound and are doing well especially those serving sea food.

In our own Shivaji market there are a couple of stalls dedicated to Thai ingredients, galangal, lemon grass bulbs, small red chillies

Now that so many ingredients for Thai, Chinese and Japanese food are available locally it is so easy to make this oriental style surmai / king fish.You can also use red snapper cut into four fillets or filleted pomfret.


3/4 kg surmai steaks about 6 x 5" medium sized

2" ginger grated

Juice of 1 lemon

4 tbsp dark soya sauce

2 tbsp fish sauce

5  tbsp sesame oil

Mix all the ingredients including 3 tbsp of the oil, and marinate the fish steaks in it for as long as possible in the fridge.

Heat the rest of the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and sear the fish on both sides.Cook for about 7 minutes in all, turning over once in between.

Remove and serve on a bed of thinly shredded green papaya, shredded cabbage and grated beetroot.



Prawn Pulao



400 gms rice

1/2 kg prawns, large

1 tsp haldi/turmeric

1.5 tsp Salt

4 tbsp oil or ghee

1 tbsp cashewnuts

4 medium onions sliced

6 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp red chilli

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp sugar

3 one inch sticks of cinnamon

6 cardamom

1 " ginger ground

2 cups cocnut milk

2 green chillies


Wash and soak rice for 15 minutes. Rub the prawns with salt and turmeric and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp  oil/ghee and saute the cashewnuts till golden brown.Remove.Saute the onions next. When soft and brown add the garlic,prawns, red chilli powder, cumin and 1 tsp sugar.

Saute for a few minutes and then remove from fire.

Heat three tbsp oil in a pan. Add the cardamon, cinnamon,rice, salt , ginger and 1 tsp sugar. Fry for a while till rice gets a bit brown.Now add the prawns and coconut milk. Add enough water to cover the rice in one inch of water or measure one digit above the level of the rice.

Bring water to the boil. Now cover tight and reduce heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes.Turn off heat. Keep standing for 10 minutes without removing lid.

Garnish with finely sliced green chilli and cashewnuts.