Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Pui shaak diye Ilish macher mudo / Hilsa head cooked with Malabar spinach

 It is that time of the year. Again.
When the sun is out finally after the rains have withdrawn for good.
When the mornings start with a slight nip in the air and then the afternoons turn fiercely hot.
When the smell of festive times is all over in the air.
When you know Ganeshotsav and then Durga puja is just around the corner.
When you remember the smell of sun soaked clothes and mattresses that have spent the day outside , back home, while the house is cleaned inside out in preparation for Durga puja.
When you remember the smell of Thamma's achars / pickles as the numerous jars and bottles are sunned too.
When you can feel the excitement of buying and planning designs with your cousins for new clothes.
When you step out into the kitchen verandah one late afternoon to see Thamma sitting quietly in front of the khirki duar / backdoor , looking out into the pond and drying her long hair in the breeze coming from across the deep, dark waters of the pond.
And your heart suddenly feels heavy with that surge of love for her.

It is that time of the year when I long to take the next flight home. And be in the midst of the busy family, quietly soaking in everything.
It is that time of the year when I miss Bapi's excited calls asking when was I coming.
It is that time of the year when nostalgia takes over and the weather turns fabulous and the evenings turn maddeningly beautiful with the bright yet soft sun and a heavy 'mon kemon kora' breeze passing by once in a while.

I try to focus on the house that I call my home now instead.
Loads of decluttering and cleaning to do.
Lots of things to be given away.
Now that the sun is back, loads of things need sunning.
I am like a plant .... I can't survive without the sun. Every single thing in my house needs to be sunned.
So lots of things to do now.
And to top it all, there is some travel coming up next week.
So it is all about hurrying right now. 

 Meanwhile, the past couple of weeks have been real hectic.
One of the days I cooked Khichuri in bulk for the street children that I often feed ... in memory of Bapi on his death anniversary.
I love going out and handing these hot packages of food to the little hands that come up to my car window. A few do not ... they are so small.
I love to hear their little screams of delight on finding some sweet. Or when I hand out ice creams.
Bapi loved ice cream.
And while I have not been able to eat a single ice cream ever since he left us, I do regularly distribute them to the little children on the streets.
Fills my heart with a some satisfaction and a lot of joy.

On another side, I have been cooking Ilish at home a little too regularly.
Given that I got two good fishes this time, I have had my fill.
And since I had a good growth of the Pui that I had planted some years ago, I decided to use them with one of the Ilish heads to make this chanchra. Or chorchori.
Or whatever you would like to call it.
There are a lot of ways that I cook Ilish head in. But my favourite is the tauk.
And this ... with the Pui shaak / Malabar spinach.

Need :

Ilish / Hilsa fish head - marinated with salt and turmeric
Chopped vegetables - I used pumpkin, ridge gourd, potato
Pui shaak / Malabar spinach - leaf and stem chopped
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Chopped onion
Turmeric powder
Red chilli powder
Panch phoron / Bengali five spice powder
Dry Red chillies
Mustard oil
How to :

Heat the mustard oil in a kadahi and fry the fish head.
Break into pieces and keep aside.

In the same oil add paanch phoron + red chillies + sliced onions.
Fry and then add ginger garlic paste.
Fry well and add haldi mirchi powder.

Now add the vegetables , salt , cover and cook till the veggies are half done.

Now add the washed and cut pui shaak and the fish head.

Cover and cook ...stirring once in a while.

Sprinkle a little red chilli powder, mix well and keep covered for a while before serving.

 I used ginger garlic paste for the first time with Ilish.
And I must say I loved the combination.
With the Rohu head, it is a different taste.
And with the ilish, it is again different.

I did not add the usual pinch of sugar and loved the change in the taste.

 Pair it with some hot rice and enjoy!!

Friday, 7 September 2018

Doi Ilish / Hilsa fish cooked in curd

With the days going by in a whirlwind, I did not get much time to dedicate to and do justice to the beautiful Ilish that I got this time.
Most of it I enjoyed just plain fried.
A tauk once, a chanchra  with my homegrown Pui leaves another .... that's all.
And then,  I found this lyaja/ tail with the muro / head in the freezer.
While the muro went into the chanchra , I was wondering what to do with the lyaja when my heart craved the ilish meat in a 'taste buds awakening' gravy.

I did not want it in a jhol.
Found a bowlful of curd in the fridge and I knew what I wanted.
I could almost feel the tang of the curd with the spice of fresh green chillies and the soft meat of the lyaja soaking it up.
Mixed with some plain hot rice, it would be a match made in heaven.
Ok ok .... cliches apart .... I set aside the piece to thaw and went about cooking B's lunch.
I cook the vegetarian part of the meals first and then cook the non vegetarian ones.
And finally clean the kitchen.
This is my way of managing my house where pure vegetarians and pure non vegetarians co exist.

 It does exhaust me by the end of everything ... which is one of the reasons I do not get to click good photographs of my dishes as regularly as I would love to.
So after I made this, I hurriedly clicked some photos, thinking that I will finally be able to make a post.
Only to find out that I have a Doi shorshe ilish on my blog already.
Then quickly realised that it did not have shorshe / mustard paste.
So I could make a post after all. 😊

I have used just the tail as I was cooking for my self.
I ask the tail to be kept slightly bigger than I would for a Rohu fish as the Hilsa is bony fish.
And as the tail tapers, the bonier it becomes.
It is easier to remove the longer bones when the piece is bigger.

Need :

Ilish fish - I used the tail, you can use any piece
Sour curd - 1 cup , beaten with water and a little salt
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp + 1 tbsp
Kalo jeere / Nigella seeds - 1 tsp
Fresh green chillies - 3 or 4 , slit into halves
Mustard oil - 1 tbsp + 1 tsp + 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Water - a little, for gravy

How to :

Heat 1 tbsp of mustard oil in a heavy kadahi / wok.
Marinate the fish with 1 tsp of turmeric powder and a little salt.
Fry the fish lightly and remove aside.

In the same oil, add 1 tsp more of the oil and add the nigella seeds.
Then add the curd on low heat, stirring constantly ... or else wit will curdle.
Add turmeric powder, salt and the green chillies, cover and bring to a simmer.

Let in the fish piece and cover and boil for some more time.
Do not raise heat at all and keep stirring once in a while.
Add water if needed.

Remove cover and when gravy has reached desired consistency, pour 1 tsp of mustard oil all over it, cover, remove from heat and let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.


The slight tang of the sour curd with the fragrance of the raw mustard oil and the green chillies is a heady mix.

Serve with hot rice.