I’m Back!! Salmon with Bengali Mustard Sauce

 I can’t make excuses and I want to do this so here we go…again.

Last weekend I went home because frankly I needed a break from the stress of school. As my dad loves fish, and recently I too have grown to like the stuff, I decided upon this delicious Salmon recipe from the book At Home with Madhur Jaffrey, written by none other than the amazing and super talented (did I mention that she is also an actress) Indian food expert herself, Madhur Jaffrey. This recipe attracted me for two reasons: one it’s from the cuisine of Bengal, a region that seems so mysterious to me because I know practically nothing about it, and I have never had any food from the area, despite my numerous trips to India. While I’m pretty sure that salmon is not traditionally used in this recipe (I frankly doubt it is even available in India for that matter), I love it because it is a deliciously meaty and healthy fish. The second winning aspect of this recipe is that literally takes only ten minutes to make and it has so few ingredients that the ones that are there (namely the mustard and turmeric) really stand out, which is great because Indian food so often has so many ingredients that you end up losing the feel of each one as they all end up blending together, but not in this one.

The salmon to start off, is marinated in a lovely blend of turmeric, cayenne pepper, and salt which according to Jaffrey not only stiffens up the fish for cooking but it adds spice and turmeric is a natural antiseptic. The sauce, is light and thin, but it does the job for standing up to the toughness of salmon, which has a bold enough flavor on it own. Cooked in mustard oil, which lends its own bitter, pungent, but oh so savory element, the dish is also enhanced by the flavors of toasted cumin, fennel, and mustard seeds, each of which I could taste independently within the finished product itself. Served with some rice, it’s a great meal any day of the week.

And did I mention that its quick too….. just marinate the fish overnight, and all you gotta do the next day is cook it for like ten minutes.

Recipe: Salmon with Bengali Mustard Sauce

Recipe Source: At Home with Madhur Jaffrey

Serves 2-3   Time: 10 minutes cooking plus a couple of hours (1-10) of marination


The Marinade

  • 3/4 pound skinned salmon fillet
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

The Mustard Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons mustard oil (you can substitute with olive or vegetable oil if you like, but the dish just won’t taste the same)
  • 2 birds-eye chilies or one jalapeno pepper, finely chopped an seeded


1. Cut the salmon into 1 by 2 inch pieces and rub in the turmeric, cayenne pepper, and salt evenly over the fish. Allow to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes to 10 hours (I did mine for about 4 hours).

2. In a bowl combine the mustard powder, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and salt with the water. Mix well to combine.

3. Heat a medium size frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil gets hot, add it the mustard and cumin seeds. Stand back as the seeds will begin to crackle and splutter immediately. Give the pan a stir and after a minute, go ahead and add the fennel seeds.

4. Shortly after that, add the mustard mixture that you created in step 2 and add in the chilies. Mix well and bring to a gentle simmer.

5. Then add in your fish and cook for about 5-10 minutes, till the fish is cooked through on the inside. Serve immediately with rice.

Cooking Notes

  • Some of the ingredients on this list such as the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and particularly the mustard oil may be hard to find in normal grocery stores. I would recommend looking in Indian grocery stores, who will have it for sure, or larger international supermarkets for these items.
  • Birds-Eye Chilies are little bitty peppers that are also known as Thai Chilies that are traditionally used in Indian cooking and they are very spicy! You can find them in Indian grocery stores as well as larger supermarkets. If you cannot handle the heat I would recommend using a jalapeno or Serrano pepper with the seeds removed of course!
  • I found that the spices in this dish do need a little more time to cook, so after the fish is done, you can remove and gently simmer the sauce, covered for about five minutes or so to cook out the spices a little more if you like. However, please note that the mustard oil does lend a slight bitterness to this recipe, but that is desired, and indeed very delicious.
  • Wine Pairing: HAHA, I am probably too young to be saying this, but from what I have read and heard, not necessarily drank, but I would say that this would probably go really well with a lightly effervescent white wine, such as a Basque Txakoli. 

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