Fish Curry With Coral Jasmine
One of the most fragrant flowers to bloom in this season is the Coral Jasmine. It is also known as the Night Jasmine and the plant is known as The Tree of Sorrow or The Sad Tree. It’swell into the season because the flowering period is from September to November. In Hindi it’s called “Harsinghar”. In Assam it is known as Xewali phool.
The flowers bloom at night and by dawn they fall to the ground. The fragrance that wafts into the surrounding area is heavenly! In the morning the ground below the tree forms a carpet of white and orange. As you can see from the photo, the blooms are small and white with a bright orange tube. These are usually picked up and used for worship or kept in bowls and platters for the fragrance.
The botanical name of this tree is Nyctanthes arbor-tristis which means a night flowering sad tree. Bereft of most of its blooms in the morning, the tree appears sad! This is a small tree which can grow up to 4 mtrs. It needs a well-drained soil and full to partial sun. It needs good sunlight for profuse flowering. It also bears green fruit capsules with one or two seeds. The leaves, grey bark, and flowers all have medicinal properties. In Ayurvedic medicine, the leaves are used in the treatment of sciatica, arthritis, fevers, various painful conditions, liver disorders and as a laxative.
The flowers are believed to keep diabetes under control. The tree’s medicinal properties range from treatment of stomach diseases, piles, common cough and cold. Apart from these, the leaves are used for polishing wood (it’s abrasive) and cleaning utensils.
For a flower as beautiful and aromatic as this will surely be associated with our mythology. It is said that Lord Krishna brought it from the heavens! Apart from India, this tree also grows in Indonesia, Thailand,Nepal and Pakistan. Found in many gardens all over India, it is also grown in the courtyards of temples. Blooms offered to the gods are generally not picked up from the ground but with the coral jasmine, there’s an exception. Buddhist also venerate this “night flowering sad tree”.
It’s always good to add something bitter to your diet. I made a fish curry with these pretty blooms that I got from my sister’s garden. It’s a ritual when the season is on. And one that is made every year during this time of the year. The spices used are minimal. But it works out well and the curry turns out delicious indeed,
- 4 small fishes ( I used a variety of carp…rohu fish)
- 1 large onion, finely grated
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1″ piece of ginger
- 4 green chillies, slit in the middle with seeds intact
- Turmeric powder to rub on the fish as well as to add to the curry
- Salt to taste
- Mustard oil
- A bowl of coral jasmine blooms, washed and drained
- About 2 cups of hot water
- Rub the fish with turmeric and salt and set aside for about 10-15 minutes.
- Grind the ginger and garlic into a fine paste.
- Heat the oil in a karhai.
- When it comes to smoking point, fry the fish. A couple of minutes on both sides should do.
- Remove from the karhai and set aside.
- In the same oil, add the green chillies and then the grated onions, the ground ginger and garlic.
- Fry till the raw smell disappears.
- Then add the chilli powder, a dash of turmeric powder and season with salt.
- Add the blooms and give the mix a good stir.
- Add the hot water and let it come to a boil.
- Add the shallow-fried fish and cook for another 7-8 minutes or till the fish is done. Transfer to a serving dish.
- This goes best with steaming hot rice.