I was thrilled to find rainbow trout frequently on the menus in Manali,Himachal Pradesh. Trout is one of my favorite fish, and it is rarely seen in almost any market. Rainbow trout was introduced by a Scotsman named F.J. Mitchell. He imported trout from Scotland and with the perseverance of Sodhama Miskeen raised the roe to populate the streams. This was along, expensive and complicated process with them having to raise money numerous times to get the trout from Scotland. Both of them are responsible for the very healthy populations of trout in Kullu, Simla, Gilgit, Nainital, and as far away as Sikkim and Shillong. He introduced the first fisheries department in India and convinced Maharaja Pratap Singh that fisheries and angling would be the future of the region. Today there are gorgeous streams to go fishing in and about a dozen farms. For more on this history of fishing in Himachal, click here. This trout was spectacular, tender, flavorful and fresh. The heavy crust of the Himachali spices complimented the fish. The side of grilled vegetables and masala mashed potatoes made for a beautiful dish, satisfying and hearty. Most folks are wary of trout as it is considered too "fishy". However, I love the flavor that are fresh and delicate. In addition, admittedly trout is a bony fish. When you get the right sized trout, about 2 1/2-3 lb in size, the bones very soft and mainly harmless. This is a dinner I want again while I am here in Manali. For more recipes by Zafar, click here.
1 medium sized mountain trout
Juice of 1 lime
For the Himachali masala:
1/2 cup hung or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons mustard oil
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin seed
1/2 tablespoons ground coriander seed
1 tablespoon Kashmiri chili, or to taste
1/2 tablespoon yellow chili powder
2 tablespoons ginger paste
2 tablespoons garlic paste
1/4 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 tablespoon dried kasoori methi leaves
Salt, to taste
For the masala mashed potatoes:
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoons chili flakes
Salt, to taste
For the roasted vegetables:
Red peppers, chunked
Yellow peppers, chunked
A pinch garam masala
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, to taste
Rub the lime juice all over the fish and allow to marinate fo 30 minutes.
Mix all the other ingredients for the Himachali masala to a smooth paste and set aside.
Meanwhile put the potatoes to boil in the water. When cooked, about 15-20 minutes, drain and pass through a food mill or mash with a potato masher. Add the cream, butter, chili flakes and salt and mix in. Taste and adjust seasonings. Preheat the oven on broiler mode to 375, or heat up the the grill.
Rub the Himachali masala with the marinated fish coating itbwell on the outside and getting some into the cavity. and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Broil the fish in the oven for 6 minutes on the first side and 4 on the second. You want the fish to be just cooked and flaky. Over cooking the fish will make it dry. Alternatively, grill the fish for about 4-5 minutes per side.
To roast the vegetables, toss the vegetables with the garam masala, olive oil and salt. Roast in a single layer till soft and charred in spots, about 12-15 minutes.
To serve, add the mashed potatoes in a long swipe on one side of the plate. Layer the grilled vegetables on a parallel swipe on the other side of the plate. Layer the grilled fish to span the potatoes and the vegetables. Serve immediately garnished with cilantro and with a wedge of lime.