Amritsari Fish: Do You Know How The Starter Came Into Being?

The mention of Amritsar must have transported you to the state with the irresistible aroma of Amritsari Kulcha, Butter Chicken, Sarson Da Saag, and Makki Ki Roti. Traditional Punjabi dishes have managed to win the hearts of people, both home and abroad alike. However, there are some culinary gems in Punjab that are yet to get the credit. Staying in a Punjabi paying guest in Delhi, I came across a lot of Punjabi delicacies and the stories behind them that I was completely unversed of. One of these culinary gems is the delicious and flavourful Amritsari Machhi. The delicious flavours and the interesting story behind the origin of the dish have kept Punjabi fish lovers hooked to the dish. 

The specialty of Amritsari fish is the type of fish used to make the dish and the ingredients used for its marination. The location of the state of Amritsar gives the advantage of an abundance of freshwater fish to the locals. The dish is primarily cooked with Singhara or sole fish and not with saltwater fish to get the authentic taste of the dish. The fish fillets are marinated with thick curd, gram flour, maida, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, carom seeds, asafoetida, salt, turmeric powder, and red chilli powder and deep-fried before serving. 

Legend has it that the origin of Amritsari Machhi is owed to the natives living around the rivers. The locals used to indulge in a lot of fish dishes and these dishes somehow reached the royal court. The Khansaamas started including the dish in the emperor’s daily diet by making it with their own cooking technique. However, this hurt the sentiments of the locals and they tried to reclaim the dish by adding home-grown spices and double frying the fish fillets. 

A common misconception surrounding Amritsari fish is that it is often misunderstood as fish pakora. However, there is a difference between the two. While fish pakora is dipped in a gram flour batter and then deep-fried, Amritsari fish is marinated and then double deep-fried to get the desired crispiness. 

This dish is a perfect appetizer for any party or special occasion. Serve this at your next house party with a mint and coriander chutney on the side to leave your guests asking for more.