Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fish in the Hereditary Mustard Curry

The fish and the mustard curry are both hereditary. Does that sound like I come from a long line of mermaids? Couldn't be further from the truth, because you see, put me anywhere close to water over 5 feet in depth and I start panicking like a fish that's out of water. Fact that I am trying to convey for the past few sentences is that Fish in mustard curry is so ubiquitously cooked in my part of the country, where I was born that is, that it feels hereditary.

Phew! Now that we have that out of the way, here's my tale of a weekend adventure with some "Rohu machli" and mustard paste -

The good thing about cooking something like this is that help is but a phone call (or 2) away. Not that I don't intuitively know everything that there's to be done, but when you want clarification/verification on the finer details, help ain't too far away. Like, for eg, when you open the plastic packet that Sushi got back from the fish monger's (full of fish of course), all enthusiastic and raring to go, and you are caught short by a fuzzy looking mess in and around the belly pieces -

What would you do? You start berating the fish - woman (one who sells fish, and is usually quite rotund and very un-mermaid like), until you suspect that the fuzzy mess may in fact be "Rohu caviar" or the fish eggs that you love so much, but have never seen in the belly of its source. Well then you dial 1800---, describe the mess in a few words, receive instant confirmation on your suspicions and some handy how to tips.

Then you put the phone down, give a whoop of delight, gather all of the messy looking stuff, give it a cursory rinse, throw in a pinch of salt, turmeric, red chili powder and some gram flour or besan and mix it up. You then heat some mustard oil(hereafter referred to simply as The Oil) in a kadahi and put in the eggs in little lumps and fry a bit. And then a bit more. Patience my heart, you'll eat soon. Voila -

Next the total number of pakodas is divided by 2 (for Sushi and me), add 1 to my total share by subtracting one from Sushi's because these are too tasty and I get the extra for battling the furious oils.

Once you are done with the munch session (that is if you discovered eggs in the first place), you return to tackle the actual fish. Well, these guys need much more thorough washing, because you never can say where they had been swimming to and what they had been getting up to. Then you season the individual pieces with salt n red chili peppa' and turmeric and last but not the least...g+g paste. After that, you shallow fry them in The Oil.

You want to be really careful here, because The Oil has a touchy nature and it really flies off the handle once it's been on the flames for a couple of minutes. It tends to send out sparks especially targeted at your pupils, not to mention any bare area of your skin that it happens to espy. You may want to practice jumping around a bit before you commence the frying as warm up for dodging the aforementioned sparks. Also you may want to have protective gloves on and goggles, the kind you wear when you go welding.

Once that's done, you've put the worse behind you and there's only the matter of the curry. This comprises mustard paste as its base. The mustard paste you make by finally getting your food processor out of its closet. (No, it's always been and still is straight, thanks). To the processor you add yellow mustard seeds (pretty hard to come by generally, you have to scour several shops diligently for a at least a week in advance) and make it go round and round.

Then to The Oil, you add "panch phoran" - a rather secret-ish ingredient with 5 different kinds of seeds in it and so the name "panch ..", mustard paste (more makes it more pungent, but if you cross a certain threshold, pungent turns to bitter, and this is when you must STOP adding more), chopped tomatoes, and salt and other things that you might think are necessary. After that, in goes fish and water, in reverse order.

You can finally get the protective gear off and begin eating..with rice is my favourite.

1 comment:

  1. main to vegeterian thera ;)) per design maast hai ;))