Kullu Trout Fish: How A Foreign Species Became A Regional Favourite
Image Credit: Pixabay, The fried fish that crossed borders to become a staple in Himachal Pradesh.

Don’t we all know about the impacts of the British rule on our country? Well, while the time was tough, we definitely retained a couple of things from their culture. And we aren’t just talking about the colonial-style architecture in Bengal and Delhi or the Portuguese influence in Goa and Pondicherry. Food was a major part of what has been left behind by the British Raj. They say, angrez chale gaye, sorry chordh gaye, but the fact remains that some things have become so commonplace that we don’t tend to view them as foreign anymore. A case in point is the kullu trout fish. 

A favourite in the hilly terrains of Himachal Pradesh, this special variety of fish is only found here today. The name kullu became attached to the trout fish once it became associated with the Kullu valley, easily found in the Beas river flowing there. The interesting part is that the trout was never really found in the Indian waters until the 1900s. The Englishmen who settled in India during the colonial rule, were quite passionate about fishing back home. These tight-suited men would look for ways of recreation during the British Raj. 

The idea of game fishing was introduced by these people in our country. Along with relaxing in the hills during hot summer months, angling was another one of their favourite pastimes. However, the indigenous fish variety didn’t give them as much pleasure as their trout and salmon. After putting much thought, they decided to bring the brown trout from their land and throw them into our waters to breed. This task wasn’t a cakewalk because the eggs had to survive harsh climates, modes of transport and be kept safe from other threats too. 

From the hills of Ooty down south to Kashmir and Kullu in the north, they started noticing an upsurge in the trout population across the country. It moved to the north-eastern states of Shillong as well as the hilly areas of Uttarakhand. That’s when the Brits began earning decent revenue from these game fishing events too. What makes this fish so intrinsic to the pahadi regions and their cuisine is the fact that it is one of the few surviving species amidst the harsh cold climate. 

The kullu trout fish is a kind of feisty brown trout variety that is commonly prepared in Himachali households, particularly areas like Shimla, Mandi and Kullu. The fish is fried with the use of minimal spices and served as a traditional meal in most parts of Himachal. The pahadi specialty is unique because it lets you taste the real flavour of the fish with only a few spices to season it. 

To prepare kullu trout fish, the fish is cleaned and washed thoroughly. Next, the marinade is prepared with coriander seeds, lemon juice, chilli flakes, dill leaves, salt and mustard oil. The fish is properly coated in the marinade and fried in hot oil on a pan. This fish is then flipped and cooked on both sides and finally kept aside. A mixture of the same ingredients like the marinade are tossed in oil in the same pan. The fish is brushed with this sauce and served hot on a bed of steamed rice. 

Here’s an authentic recipe that you can try at home.