Seyal Machi

Responsibly farm-raised Catfish is both a healthy and sustainable choice. Ajanta, a longstanding green-certified Indian restaurant in Berkeley serves Seyal Machi, a seething plate of Catfish smothered in caramelized dry-cooked onions and seasoned with spices   that infuse the fish with a delicate sweet-smokiness. The slight sourness of mango powder, for instance, nicely counterpoints the bright sweetness of the onions.

Ajanta’s Seyal Machi

6 tablespoons peanut or grapeseed oil
4 medium onions chopped
4 teaspoons coriander powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons mango powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons hot chile pepper powder
2 pounds catfish fillets cut into 3 inch pieces

1. In a 6 to 8 quart saucepan heat about 4 tablespoons of oil. Add the onions and saute over high heat, stirring frequently until the onions are caramelized to a deep golden brown. The heat should be kept high enough so that the onions dehydrate and do not become soggy.
2. Add all the spices and salt, lower the heat, and stir for about 5 minutes. Reduce to a lower flame and let the sauce simmer until the next step is done.
3. In a 10 to 12 inch saute pan heat the remaining oil until it becomes very hot but not smoking. While the oil heats, pat dry the pieces of fish in a clean towel. Saute the pieces in the oil for about 30 seconds on each side until they change  color.
4.Transfer the fish to the pot with the sauce. Raise the heat to medium and cook until the fish flakes easily (about 3 to 4 minutes). Cooking time will depend on the size of the pieces.