Seafood Chowder

If you ask me what’s my most favourite food in the world, I shall reply: fish. Really, there’s no fish that I don’t like. Fish and seafood.

Happily, Bengal’s culinary tradition is replete with a fantastic array of fish preparations. Not so happily, seafood, with the exception of prawns, tends to get short shrift in our cuisine. There’s the kankra jhal (spicy crab curry), yes, but look for dishes that feature clams or mussels or squid, and you’ll draw a complete blank. What’s worse is that you won’t find these things in the supermarkets or even the big markets here.

So when I want to cook a seafood chowder – a dish I love because it’s so tasty and wholesome and is in fact a complete meal – I am forced to leave out the clams and mussels and resort to good old prawn. I add some fresh white fish too – preferably, bekti. This is not the classic seafood chowder, no, but what the heck, it tastes great even without them clams and other bits of seafood. Indeed, it's one of those comfort foods where satisfaction is guaranteed.

So here’s my version of seafood chowder. Serve it with crusty bread and some sauteed veggies like carrots, beans and peas and watch that bowl being scraped clean!

Serves 4


200g of bekti fillet
250g of prawns
700ml milk
1 small onion chopped fine
50g of butter
1 tablespoon flour
Some chopped parsley
A couple of tablespoons of cream
Salt and pepper to taste


Cook the prawns and bekti fillets in the milk. Be careful not to overcook the prawns as that will make them tough.

Strain the milk and take out the fishy stuff. Flake the cooked bekti fillets and chop the prawns into small chunks. Reserve a few prawns whole for the garnish. Keep aside the fish-flavoured milk.

Melt the butter in a deep pan. Tip the chopped onions into the pan and saute on low fire until the onions turn soft and translucent. Add the flour. Fry for a bit and slowly add the milk, stirring continuously. Bring to a boil and then gently simmer for about 5-7 minutes, or until the mixture thickens a bit.

Add the fish flakes and prawns. Mix them in nicely.
Put off the heat. Add salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper.

Now mix in the cream. Heat gently.
Garnish with chopped parsley and the whole prawns.

Serve at once.



  1. I came across this blog and was hooked. I went through all the posts and as a probashi Bangali, all I can say is that childhood suddenly was within grasp. All those holidays in Cal and the list of mishti recipes - patishaptas et al, - the memories came rushing back. Look forward to more, Shuma. I might even try my hand at the recipes. They seem temptingly doable.


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