Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Parshe macher jhal / Parshe fish cooked in mustard gravy

I have been compiling a lot of my thoughts, in my head of course, to make a new post, for a while now. There were two or three things that I had decided to write upon. But everything went haywire this afternoon.
All because of a crow.
It was almost past twelve and the sun was blazing outside. The bare trees stood still. And there was an eerie quiet all over. It was obvious that everybody preferred to stay indoors as much as they could. Stepping out in the shimmering heat would be only for those who had to.
I had spent the whole morning doing nothing ... if you bar the laundry and some darning.
And had just stepped out into the balcony.
Finding it so hot and quiet all over, I decided to go back inside.

And that is when a crow cawed.
Not near anywhere ... from somewhere a little far away. But that cawing in that hot afternoon suddenly turned me into stone.
And a wave of nostalgia swept over me.
To make matters worse, I had Rabindra sangeet playing.
"Jedin tomar jogoto nirokhe, horoshe poran uthiche puloki ... " Sagar Sen, Bapi's favourite singer, was singing.
And I was transported back home in a blink of an eye.

Through watery eyes I saw Bapi come in, as usual, for lunch and head straight for the stereo system first. He would put on a record and wait for the food to be served. The kitchen would be a war zone then ... everyone trying to put out lunch in time .... 1 o'clock sharp.
Dadu and his sons had lunch first. So the ladies of the house hurried from the kitchen to the dining room, the house helps following them with bowls of food and trays holding glasses of water.
And the dining room bustled with the sounds of plates, glasses, talks, a cough hear or there, with Rabindra sangeet in the background.

I would sit on the window sill and watch quietly, soaking in the scene.
And look out of the big windows to see the haze of the afternoon heat outside.
And past the quiet, sleepy uthon / courtyard and the pond beyond it, on the single Taal tree, a crow would sit and caw.

And I would look at everybody's plates to see which one had the biggest pile of fish bones on the upper right corner of the plate.
Dadu would ask for another helping of bhaat just to mop up the gravy of the jhaal. His plate had the least bones .... Dadu was known for chewing up most of the fish bones easily.

Tears flowed freely as those voices reverberated in my mind.
I did not cook and did not feel like having lunch. With B away for work these days, I have no compulsion or motivation to step into the kitchen.
Rather, spent the whole day going through albums and memories.
And wishing for the nth time that I had recorded those voices somehow.

This Parshe maacher jhaal is a typical dish cooked in numerous Bengali homes with all kinds of fish, small or big, usually for lunch.
 I add tomatoes only if I am making it during winters.

Need :

 Parshe fish - 250 gms , marinated with salt + turmeric powder
Mustard paste - 3 tbsp
Onion - 1, medium, sliced
Tomato - 1 medium, chopped
Fresh green chillies - 3
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp 
Nigella seeds / Kalo jeere - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Water -for gravy
Cooking oil - 3 tbsp ( I use mustard oil )

How to :

Heat the oil in a heavy kadahi / wok.

Fry the fish and remove. Keep aside.

Add the nigella seeds + the green chillies.

Add the sliced onions and fry till the rawness goes away.

Now add the tomatoes + turmeric powder + salt.
Fry well.

When the tomatoes are done, add water + mustard paste.

Bring to a boil and add the fish.

Check for seasoning, cover and cook for five minutes.

Remove cover, check for gravy's consistency.


Serve hot with rice.

Here is a snap of our lunch that day .... Rice, dal, cauliflower fry and raw banana fry.
I have more lunch plate shots and ideas on my blog's page on Facebook.
Do stay in touch there for more recent food updates.



  1. পোস্টটা মন ছুঁয়ে গেল, শর্মিলা। মাছের ঝোলটা খেতে যে ভালো হয়েছে বোঝাই যাচ্ছে, দেখতেও অসামান্য হয়েছে।

  2. Amaro chokh bhije elo Sharmila.

    Amar Baba khub Gaan shunte bhalobashten.1984 saale prothom tape recorder kena...Baba utsaho niye sobar gola tape korechilen....Dada Ami Amma mashimoni etc etc...Sob mone koriye dile.

    1. Mahua ... Bapi o amader shokkol er gaan, tabla, guitar bajano ... shob record korto. Ekhon koto kore khuje o Bapi r gola kotthao payi na jano. Ki bokami korechi chotobelaye ekhon boro hoye bujhchi. Ma Baba der amra koto granted niye nei tai na ... je onara shob shomoye e toh achen.

  3. Loved your post. There is something about quiet afternoons and solitary crows that is so nostalgic it will take me an entire post to dissect why. I had pictures all ready to do it, even the words, I don't remember now why I didn't post it. Let me go search for it.
    That curry looks lovely. I feel like getting on a plane to your place right now!

    1. Do it Sra. Please make a post. I have a kind of restlessness these days ... would love to write more patiently , with more details. Just can't.
      Looking forward to your post.

  4. Hi,

    The post is just so apt. Is it the wrong side of 30s or just part of growing up.
    A similar smell, a similar song, a thought, food.. any thing is just enough to trigger emotions. after that the whole day you just sail through. Neither in past nor in present.

    It happens sometimes. you feel like writing so much, putting words to the wild horses of thoughts but nothing just seems right to explain that exact what you are feeling. I am sure you will find your words soon. just like you always do.

    Take care,
    Warmest regards,

    1. Thank you Ash! I hope so too.
      Yes, I guess it has to do with our growing up. The more we experience life, the more it manifests itself in us, our subconcious, only to come up at times to give us that feeling of deja vu.

    2. Honestly,

      Your mind becomes like an over busy road with so many tracks and different thoughts..
      It's happening with me so often that's frightening..I am just hapless.. Reading takes me away from all this.. It's like my poison.. But sometimes I read same para twice;)

      When my dad died...I was prepared for it ( he was ill for long) but the feeling of never seeing his impish smile again was beyond belief... I can spend hours just allowing wild horses gallop in memories while the cooker over cooks and toast burns ( sorry had to make it light)

      Warmest regards,

      Btw the table cloth is very preety and the bottle with plant

    3. Thank you Ash! You always have the nicest things to say.

  5. everytime a crow Caws am scared. I never paid heed to it but somehow on that very unfortunate day a crow was cawing outside my kitchen incessantly and made me irritated. I tried to shoo it away but it stayed on and within an hour or so...I just dont remember now... I got the worst news of my life.

    1. Sayantani ... crows have always been considered as harbingers of news or people ... both good or bad.
      You won't believe the kind of interactions I have had to have after those two losses in my family. Numerous incidents, numerous instances. Lots of happenings that have turned me into a convert and now I believe in everything our Shastras have in them.
      Hugs to you.


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