There are a few recipes that are very popular on social media and every year, like clockwork, they do the rounds in the season. Aam shol is one such recipe. Shol maach, also spelt as sole mach is a snakehead Murrel. When it is cooked with season’s fresh green mangoes, it is called aamsole or aam shol.
Typically, Ghotis or the people originating from West Bengal avoid fish that has a slimy skin or the scaleless varieties like shol mach, magur mach (catfish), aar, boal etc etc. While Bangals (people originating from East Bengal/ Bangladesh) thrive on all kinds of fish, big or small, with or without scales. Then again, being a Bangal, I had never heard of or eaten aam shol while growing up. It’s only in the last 4 years that I have heard about this recipe on various social media platforms and tried it at home.
My grandmother used to make shol mach with bottle gourd and that is something we have quite often. It’s quite a summery recipe as well, light on the gut and incredibly delicious. I referred to Pragyasundari Debi’s book for the recipe of aam shol. At that time, it was an unpublished recipe and over the years, it gained immense popularity. The recipe itself seemed complicated with too many spices and so I gave up.
I am always in favour of recipes with minimal work. The internet literally had a reservoir of recipes for shol mach, each one different from the other. The idea is that this is a ‘macher tawk’. So I went with flavours that go with raw mangoes, and kept it simple and voila, this was a killer recipe. Even the ghoti boys loved it.
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Key points to remember while making aam shol:
- For aam shol, the cut of the fish has to be round steaks
- The texture of the fish is quite delicate and easily overcooks. Hence when you first put the fish in the oil, just lightly add colour on each side and take it off the heat. Eventually, it will go back in the gravy and then finally cook
- Use season’s fresh green mangoes that have that beautiful fragrance that goes with the fish.
- Don’t discard the head and the tail. You can cook them with a bottle gourd
- Use sugar as per your taste and the sourness of the green mangoes
Learn how to make kancha aamer ambol here- Link
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Aam shol | Snake head murrel with green mangoes
- 4-6 pcs shol mach steaks shol mach cut into round steaks
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp nigella seeds
- 4 nos green chilies
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- 1 ½ tbsp black mustard paste
- 3 tbsp mustard oil
- 2 tsp sugar to taste
- salt to taste
- 2 nos green mangoes
- Rub half tsp of turmeric powder and salt to taste on the fish steaks and keep for 15 minutes.
- Peel the skin of one large or 2 small green mangoes and cut them into quarters length-wise. Discard the stone.
- Heat mustard oil in a frying pan or a kadai. When the oil is smoking hot, add the fish to the oil gently. Fry the fish for 20 seconds on each side in mustard oil and then take the fish out and set them aside.
- In the same oil, add nigella seeds and 2 green chillies. When the seeds start releasing fragrance, add the quartered mango slices.
- Add salt and the rest of the turmeric powder. Sprinkle water, reduce the heat and cover. Let the mangoes soften.
- Then add the mustard paste strained with water. Add a cup of water for the gravy and then place the fish in the pan. Let it simmer for a few minutes.
- Adjust the salt and add sugar to taste. Finally, add split green chillies, give it a boil and turn off the heat.
- Serve aam shol with steamed rice.