This is one of my most favourite makhas.
With summer being so tough on us this time, we have light food everyday.
And lunches were mostly of curd rice and paanto bhaat (rice in water).
Back home, the paanto or the paanta bhaat .... made from soaking cooked rice in water and eaten the next day or the day after ... gets wonderfully fermented and developes a taste of its own.
But I have found it very difficult to ferment it well here in Pune. Mainly because of the cool weather that Pune has.
But this year, when it reached 39 degrees in April, the first thing I did was buy a kilo of boiled rice grains ... the thick ones that we use back home for everyday meals.
And an earthen pot.
Thamma used to make panto in an earthen pot. Not only does it ferment well, it stays wonderfully cool too.
And, for the first time in all my years in Pune, I could eat the real paanto.
I have wanted to make a post but was not possible this year. Maybe next year ... what with this global warming and all, I don't think Pune will retain its 23 degrees anymore on any other on coming summers.
So, next time.
Paanto bhaat needs a lot of accompaniments to go with it.
Fried vegetables, fried fish, fried saag(leafy vegetables), lots of makha .... of either boiled or roasted stuff, fried boris, etc. etc.
And this maach makha or the maach er bhorta has been a childhood favourite of mine.
Summer meant Dadu's house, the whole brood of cousins, gorging on sweet mangoes with sleepy eyes after a long afternoon siesta, after a cooling and tummy stuffing lunch of Thamma's panto.
And what variety of dishes!
While the aloo makha would be omnipresent, sometimes with the boris mashed in, this maach makha or bhorta was a must too.
All of us loved it.
I specially loved it when one of the kakimas or Jethimoni or Ma ... to whosoever the task was assigned to to ... sat down with a huge plate of crispy fried big sized rohu or the katla.
She would bend her head in full concentration to pick the fish .... no bones should stay back.
Big sized fishes had big sized bones and hence are easy to pick. But one has to look for that stray fine bone too ... lest there is a mishap while eating.
She would pick the bones and pile them on the corner of the plate.
And I would quietly sit and watch.
As soon as a big sized bone was kept, I would pick it up and chew on it. And keep watching again.
I especially loved the bones from the joints ... they had juice to suck on too.
The house help would provide the other things like the chopped onions, green chillies etc.
After all the bones have been picked, the entire thing will be mixed well, with a little pressure from the fingers to lightly mash it .... to get the flavours all mixed well.
Then there will be a generous amount of mustard oil doused over the whole thing and a final mix given to round it off.
How I miss those summer days ... Jethimoni sitting on an ason laid on the kitchen verandah, bent over the plateful of fish, working deftly with her fingers. And I sitting quietly beside her, watching with fascination.
Both oblivious to the sounds coming from the rest of the house and the kitchen.
And later, came my most favourite part.
After everything is done, Jethimoni would straighten up, pick up the plate in one hand and just before getting up, smiling, would hold out her hand for me to lick it a little.
With a nod, she enquires " all ok?" and I smile back with round, shining eyes "daaaarun!"
Even today, when I make this maacher bhorta, I lick my fingers at the end, just before washing my hands ... and Jethimoni's smiling face and enquiring nod dances before my eyes.
You can make this bhorta even if it is not summer and even if you are not having the paanta bhaat for lunch. This makes a great side dish with the plain dal bhaat too.
Rohu fish - 4 big sized pieces, fried crisp (you can check out here )
Onions - 1 big sized, chopped
Green chillies - 3, chopped
Mustard oil - 2 tbsp
Fresh coriander leaves - chopped
Salt - to taste
How to :
Break and spread out the fish pieces on a big sized plate.
Pick the bones carefully.
(If you are making the fish keema, the bones are easy to pick since they stand out when cooked. Not so here .... so be careful. Which is why only big sized pieces are used for this. )
Give a little mash ... just to get it together but not make it into a pulp.
Mix in the rest of the ingredients and mix well with a light hand.
Here is my lunch plate with the macher bhorta that I made the other day.
I had made the chana dal with lauki.
But this goes even better with the tauker dal or aam dal and rice.
Check out my similar preparations -
Rui maach er Jhura