Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Chal diye Muri Ghonto / Fish head cooked with Rice

( Vegetarians can make this with cubed potatoes ).
Warning : Long rambling; too easy recipe. ;-)

The word Muri in this comes from the word 'muro / mudo' which means fish head. And 'Ghonto' usually means a mix of some things cooked together.
A very popular Bengali dish, the Muri Ghonto is also made with dals / lentils , cabbage and also with a mix of leafy and other vegetables. But the one made with rice is best loved by all. It can be called as a kind of pulao made with fish head.
Jethi (aunt) makes the best Muri Ghonto. Back home our neighbour was a big joint family which Jethi belonged to. But the word 'neighbours' was used only to describe to strangers that we are different families ... coz it was difficult to make out otherwise.

Both our houses were huge. And each had four entries ... the main gate for the family and other genteel, the one side entry for different vendors, ranging from the fishwala to the green grocer to the ones selling cotton bedsheets ... and so on. The back door was for those who worked for the families ... from the cook to the maids to the gardener ... etc.

And on one side a door of each house faced each other. There was only a small space between them. These two doors opened early at sunrise and were shut only when the families have retired for the day. Of course, they would open again sometimes late into the night during emergencies like an illness or someone arriving or leaving.

And throughout the day there would be a constant flow of people to and from both houses. We children grew up together. It was very common to find a member of either family having breakfast, lunch or dinner in the other house.
And when there were a lot of relatives visiting ( and a lot of means a real huge number as with joint families) they spilled over to the other house.

Jethi and other kakis (aunts) were as much our own as the kakimas in my family ... celebrating our successes in school,college and other things later in life, admonishing us for our pranks and cooking for us our favourite meals and dishes.

Each had a speciality when it came to cooking ... which the others did not bother to pick up or learn.

So whenever Jethi made the Muri Ghonto with rice , she would hurry over just before lunch, with a huge bowlful ... huffing and puffing, her homely and affectionate round face red and bright.
Wiping her face with her aanchal, she would call out and place the bowl on the table only when somebody appears. And would hurry away ... brushing away requests to sit down for a while and take a breath.

Now when I recall, it was always Jethi herself who used to bring over stuff .... never sent it through anybody else ... not a child, never a maid or a servant.

After Jethi and her family moved to Calcutta for good, I terribly missed the dishes she made. Especially her Chal diye Muri Ghonto.

In one of our conversations on the phone, she did mention the recipe ... but I did not give it a try initially due to two reasons.

One ... it sounded ridiculously simple. So much so that I thought she tweaked it to make it easy for me ( I was wrong).

Two .... she mentioned jeera / cumin seeds paste. Since I hated jeera very passionately once upon a time, I tried making it without the jeera.
Bad idea. Wasn't even close to Jethi's dish.(I suspect this is an East Bengal or Bangal recipe as Jethi has her roots there.)

Now I make it this way ... and savour the taste along with loads of memories.

Need :

A medium sized fish head ( I usually use the Rohu fish )
Rice - 1 cup ( washed )
Dry red chillies - 2 or 3
Jeera / Cumin paste - 2 tbsp ( if using jeera powder, just soak it in water for a while)
Ginger paste - 1 tbsp
Haldi / Turmeric - 1 tsp
Mustard oil - around 4 tbsp to fry the fish and 2 tbsp for the dish
Water - 2 cups
Bay leaves - 2
Cinnamon - 2 or 3 pieces
Salt to taste

How to : Marinate the fish head with turmeric powder and salt.

Heat 4 tbsp ( or more if the fish head is bigger ) of mustard oil in a wok or kadahi. Fry the fish head in it. Remove and break into medium sized pieces. Keep aside.

Heat around 2 tbsp of mustard oil in another kadahi. Add the bay leaves, the chillies and the cinnamon.

Add the ginger paste and fry for a while ... but not for too long.

Add the jeera paste and fry some more.

Now add the fish pieces ( or potatoes ) and toss around for a while.

Add the rice, haldi powder and salt and stir well.

Add water, cover and cook till the rice is just done.

Remove from heat, give a stir to separate the rice grains, cover and keep for a few more minutes.

Serve hot.

Check out one of my favourite posts at Sandeepa's .... and am not talking of just the Muri Ghonto. :-)

TC all !!


  1. Asha said...

    Gorgeous color of that rice, looks mouthwatering. Lovely recipe. I haven't tasted the Fish head dish before but one of friends used to make curry with it and it used to smell so good! :)

    Thanks Asha! That was so quick! I was shifting the post from draft ... so had to copy your comment here. :-)
    If you like fish, give this a try sometime. :-)

  2. Eta te onion nei tai na ? Yours looks so much better than mine, really more like a pulao

    And thanks for the sweet mention :-)

  3. Sharmi, I didnt even look at the recipe but came straight to post a comment after your lovely description of the childhood days!
    Thanks for sharing such a warm friendship, helps in keeping faith in the goodness of life alive :)
    You must have beautiful memories.

  4. Dear Sharmila
    Very nice indeed ! I remember now, my mon used to cook a Niramish version ( no onion i MEAN).
    The spicing here is just too good, just the tej pata , cinamon ( no clove or cardamum), jeera , ada and lanka..I can get the fragrance right now.
    I have cooked sandeepa's recipe 2-3 times , which I like and very different falvor..will try this moment I am back home
    Have a nice week

  5. Na Sandeepa ... but I want try out your recipe ... am sure the onion, ghee and garam masala combi will be great too. :-)

    Thanks Joyee for liking my ramblings! I just had to write about Jethi when mentioneing her muri ghonto. And you can always get back to the recipe if ever you think of making this. :-)

    Haan Ushnishda' ... I'll make Sandeepa's version the next time I get mudo. This recipe is very very simple ... kintu khub bhalo lage khete. And the thought of 'fish head cooked the niramish way' always makes me smile. :-)

  6. Back home, we used to love the fish head in curries or kuzhambhu.
    Tastes divine.It takes skill to eat the fish head..
    Never made rice with tha though.Will try it out for sure.

  7. Sharmila,

    eto kotha thake chotobalakar je mon sodho ghure-2 okhane jete chaye.tumaar joint family'r r jethir description ta eto bhalo legecheche ami bodhaye shobde de bolte parbona :)..
    ekta honest confession ami konodin muri ghonto chaal diye bana e ni ebong ma r sashuri O banae na , eyibaar samay hole eyi ta nischoyi try korbo ..
    hugs and smiles

  8. Sharmila, wow this is simply delicious and honestly I havent made biriyani with fish this is a must try one.... am bookmarking this... Mouthwtaering!!!

  9. That makes my mouth water Sharmila. I loved fish head in gravies but never knew of a rice with fish head, yes till I saw Sandeepa's post on it.

  10. eta amar bhhishon favorite, kintu ami kono din korte shahosh korini; another reason being the non so available fish head:).. amar kachey je recipe lekha achey, sheta te jeere mentioned and i do remember the smell of it .. I wish I was in your home eating this.

  11. nice read down the memory lane Sharmila :)
    the rice looks flavourful ...

  12. Thanks Sumi! Do try it out ... pretty easy. :-)

    Thanks Jaya! Arey .. jokhon chotobelar kotha mone pore tokhon ar kichui mane thake na ... koto ki je likhe fellam. :-)
    Eta ekbar try kore dekho ... bhalo lagbe. :-)

    Thanks Ramya! Do give it a try. :-)

    Thanks ISG! If you like fish head, do give this a try. Sandeepa's version it great too. :-)

    Thanks Soma! Give it a try ... shahosh er dorkar e hobe na. Of course fish head toh chai. Chole esho .. would love to make it for you. :-)

    Thanks Suparna! :-)

  13. Sharmila, your Muri Ghonto Chal Diya looks yummy...jodi taste korte partam...ha ha ha
    I have cooked muri ghonto with less quantity of rice. Will surely try this.
    Your travel down memory lane is worth the read.

  14. Loved hearing the stories. We were flat barir Bangalis but what you described so straight out North Cal or Jhumpa Lahiri.

    I love fish head. Though make it in daal or with cabbage. Haven't got back to it since my last fishbone incident :(

    With Alu? seriously. Jethima would say Durga Durga i am sure

  15. Its a new recipe...Looks nice...

  16. Wow - what a story! Jethi and the big joint family - I loved each bit of it...
    Amazing recipe and pix too, but the story was the best I think!

  17. Loved reading about your childhood days memories....
    Eta amar bhishon fav dish kintu ami nijey kanodin banaye ni. Khetey ichhe korley amar Ma ke boltam banatey. But now that I'm married hardly get a chance to taste it!!! Tai virtually taste korchi tomar dish ta ;-)Thanks for sharing it.I'll try your version of 'Muri Ghonto' without onion.
    Nice blog !!!

  18. Sharmila, tumi amar one of the favorite dish post korecho ajke..darun dekhte hoyeche..ami mudo khayar poka, kintu amar hubby ekdom khete pare na smell-er janay, tai katodin kichu banai ni mudo diye...tai ma-er kache gele make boli banate....I love chaldiye muri ghanto

  19. Awesome, all the clicks r pretty tempting!

  20. Thanks Gouridi! :-)

    Thanks Kalyan! Only it was Orissa. :-)

    Thanks Tina! :-)

    Thanks Somoo! Wrote something after a long time actually. :-)

    Thanks Deepa! Eta khub easy .. try koro ekbar. :-)

    Thanks Indrani! Nijer jonne kokhono ektu kore niyo ... ami toh kori. :-)

    Thanks Aruna! :-)

  21. oma tumi muroghanto baniecho? amar bar er khub fav dekhlei khai khai korbe. darun dekhte hoeche. akdom fish pulao types.

  22. I enjoyed reading about your childhood home and all your aunts, Sharmila. You brought back many good memories...in the Bombay flat where I grew up it was our neighbors who were always walking in and out, but many were as close as family. Good times :)

  23. Thanks for sharing the cherishing memories Sharmila,always a delight to read them.The spice in Jethi's fish ghonto sounds perfect,I use zeera very often in my cooking. :D.

  24. hi
    Simply great recipe,got the taste from pics itself,tryng now,will tell later the true taste.

  25. Thanks Sayantani! :-)

    Thanks Vaishali! It is this closeness with neighbors that I miss the most here. :-)

    Thanks Yasmeen! Am just starting to like the jeera. :-)

    Thanks Sonali! Hope you like it. :-)

  26. Nicely written, Sharmila. The way my Mum makes which I follow, is also similar but without the jeeray bata. oh yes, and we also add little pieces of potato.

    Rui macher naam shune Rui Maacher Kalia khete ichche korche. :-(

    Fridge'e maach neyee- only some frozen Sole Fish. Do you know what to do with it?

  27. Thanks Pree! I like it with aloo too. And sorry ... ami kokhono sole maach banaini. Tai kono suggestion dite parchi na. :-(

  28. Wow ! I love muri ghonto a lot .. my mom makes it at home and have learned it from her the best part was only dad and I get to eat as mom doesn't eat fish head and my sis never wanted to. We make it in a different way with sabut garam masala and ginger garlic paste.
    I always addressed it as fih head biryani to my non bengali friends and who enjoy eating fish head.

    Good one ! Keep it coming !

  29. Thanks Life! Fish biryani ... very apt. :-)

  30. can we prepare this with chira instead of rice?

  31. Check this out:

    1. Much thanks Anon.! I am so fed up of these morons.


Thank you for sharing Kichu Khonn( a few moments ) with me in my kitchen!