Monday, May 25, 2015

Fishy Tales In High Summers

Our gang of girls at work is forever into planning the next fun thing to do. From being dressed in sync to shopping sprees to sneaking out for a lunch or movie or even at times planning a socially relevant protest - we are upto it all and more.

Last weekend bored with the office canteen food and craving something nice talk started about doing a pot luck. Most of us being non-veg lovers the food of course was going to be predominantly non veg we did decide on a couple of veg dishes as well keeping in mind the token vegetarian in the group and also to provide ourselves from the overload of non veg.

I was told to get a fish dish and it better be finger licking good I was told. Monday was set as the D day. The weekend being ample prep time.

Now Sunday was also Jamai shoshti or the Day of the Son in Law in Bengali households. Mom was getting ready to cook up a storm in the kitchen. With outside temperatures already hitting 45 degree plus I managed to dissuade her and instead opted for a lunch date for the entire family. It turned out to be a sane thing to do. Everyone had a good time and we got back home to sleep out the rest of the terribly hot afternoon.

What this meant however was that the pot luck fish dish still needed to be cooked. And I had to do all the cooking.

So Sunday evening I got down to ordering the fish from our local fish seller who has an amazing delivery system as well.

A 2.5 kg freshly cut Rohu was delivered to my home and I set out to turn it into a curry that would have a bong touch and would yet be relished by non-bongs. Why I mention this is - in temperatures as high as the ongoing ones - most bengali households would stick to the kaalo jeere kaacha lonka jhol (aniseed and green chillies), jeera & adda bata (Shahi jeera and ginger paste) or the doi maach versions. The heavier kaalia would be kept for cooler temperatures.

Most non bengalis however would find such versions not too palatable so it had to be a judicious mix of both.

After some thinking here is what I did:

A Doi Kaalia with Fried Onions

Rohu or Kaatla fish - about 1.5 kg ( I had ordered a full 2.5 kg fish so that I could pick the pieces I wanted and leave the rest for another day)
Onions julienne - 2 medium size
Onion paste - 2 medium size
Ginger paste - 2 tbsp
Tomato paste - 1 tbsp
Curd - 3/4 cup well whipped with a tsp of salt
Cumin Seeds - a tsp
Bay leaves - 2-3 
Dry Red Chilli  - 2-3
Coarse grind (3-4 green cardamom, 3-4 cloves and 1/2 inch cinnamon stick)

Raisins - 1 tbsp - soaked in water
Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp for marination and 1 tsp for the gravy
Chilli powder - 1 tsp (or more if you like it spicy)
Cumin powder - 2 tsp
Mustard oil or any cooking oil - 1.5 cup

Wash and pat dry the fish pieces - I had about 14 pieces
Add a tsp each of turmeric and salt and let the fish sit for half an hour

In the meantime heat the oil in a deep kadhai and let it heat up well - add the onion julienne and stir around on high heat for a minutes, reduce flame and fry till crisp without burning. With a slotted spoon take them out on a paper towel lined plate and spread. Keep aside.

In the same oil fry the fish about 4 pieces at a time. Make sure you lower the heat and turn the fish around so that its evenly fried. take the pieces out and let them rest. Once all the fish pieces are fried, switch off the flames for a short while. This is to just ensure that the temperature is not too high and doesn't burn the next ingredients.

Re-switch on the heat and then in quick succession add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, pinch of sugar and coarse ground garam masala ingredients. Add the onion paste and stir around on medium flame.

Add a pinch of salt, keep stirring to ensure the onion doesnt catch at the bottom, once the onion starts to release oil, lower heat and add turmeric, chilli powder, ginger paste, cumin powder and tomato puree. Stir rigorously and let a few bubbles form, once you can smell the fried masala add the curd mix and let it all simmer on low heat. Add some water incase you feel you need a little more gravy. Add the raisins. Check the salt and adjust.
Once the gravy is boiling well slip in the fish pieces, do not stir. Let it boil for about two minutes and then switch off the heat.

Transfer to a shallow bowl making sure to ensure you dont break the fish pieces. Top with the fried onions and serve with rice.

The fish dish was received well by my office colleagues and even my mom didnt criticize it ;). Made me think posting this is a must.

All set to go with me to work. 

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