Monday, March 7, 2016

Mourala Maach Bhaja / Mola Fish Fry

Our holiday in India started with a slow spin when suddenly we decided to go to my husband’s cousin’s house on a cold evening. My husband got the bike from the shed and we wrapped ourselves tightly in thick woolen sweaters, jackets and mufflers. I never skip covering my ears whenever I ride the bike because otherwise I have soaring migraines which ends up in gobbling painkillers. Last year I didn’t know about this pretty simple fact and at the end of the journey I had a messed up hair and filthy headache.

Mourala Mach Bhaja preparation

Howrah Bridge.
The road was not good. And when I am saying not good it literally means worse. The only good road available was the thin mud roads in between the mustard or potato fields. We took a rather long road which goes through the market because I had to eat phuchkas. But that stall was closed because they had a family function that day...and in my effort to eat something from the street we went to a sweetmeat shop and I ate Nolen Gur flavoured Malai Chomchom. They were heavenly delicious. I no longer think of K.C.Das or Bheem Nag or Dwarik...when I think of these pretty sweet devils...because seriously these village shops make far superior sweets than the chart toppers of the metro city. They are creamy, rich and full of flavours. I just adore them.

Poultry farm of the village
Guavas from the launch - ghat from Howrah with rock-salt and chili powder!!
We reached Anukhal...that is where my husband’s cousin lives, quite late because of my small feuds that kept us halting here and there quite a few times. Dinner was quick and light and we were off to sleep soon. Jet lag was hitting us badly. Next day in the lunch we had this beautiful Mourala Maach Bhaja. I can’t tell you how much I missed them throughout all the year. And my sister – in –law cooked them to the ultimate perfection. Crispy and golden. With a little ghee and rice, the taste was mesmerizing. This was followed by Fried Fish Roe / Macher Dimer Bora, Rohu Fish curry with potatoes and cauliflower, Paneeer in a Mustard sauce and Sorshe Ilish i.e. Hilsa in a mustard curry. This couldn’t have been better.

Mourala Maach Bhaja mola fish fry recipe
Rub the fishes on a rough surface to get rid of their scales.
Mourala Mach Bhaja mola fish fry recipe

bengali style Mourala Mach Bhaja
After that clean their innards and wash them with water.
Mourala Maach Bhaja mola fish fry recipe
Mariante the fishes with some salt and turmeric powder and fry in musard oil.
Mourala Maach Bhaja mola fish fry recipe

 I kept crawling behind the back of Kajari di, that is what I call my sister – in – law, to help her... to see how was she cooking.......and everytime she waved me away saying that it’s her area and we are their guest. Failed at my attempts to sneak past her cooking skills I went to the portico of their huge house...which once used to be the famous Zamindar Bari of that village, and just tried to think how glorious it used to be at one time. The house used to have a pond in the middle of it, where in general the other Zamindar houses have “uthan” / courtyard...but later it had been filled up with soil and the surface had been cemented. Now only the descending staircases are visible. Here and there were some small huts for storing the rice grains, which we call “morai”...and the Natmondir (the area for the pujas or worshipping) is laid empty with only a collapsible gate in the front. The inside is dark and full of dusts. I tried to look but I could barely see anything with my cellphone’s light. I came back quickly because I almost lost my way to their rooms between the small corridors scattered in every direction and their two main gates. Addabazi seemed more interesting than being lost in that 300 years old building!!!

Mourala Maach Bhaja /Mola Fish Fry

Mourala Maach Bhaja mola fish fry recipe

Mourala Maach / Mola Fish
Turmeric powder ( as required – for 250gm 2 tsp powder is enough)
Mustard oil to fry

First you have to clean the fish.
You need a rough surface because you have to rub the fishes on it. The fishes are way too small to clean their scales individually.
If you have a stone grinder then you can do on that. Or otherwise look for a flat board with a rough surface.
Once it done, prepare to clean the intestines.
Pinch just below the gill of the fish. It will tear up. Then squeeze the portion below that pinch and all the dirt from inside will come out.
Follow this process to clean all the fishes. This is important or otherwise the fishes will taste bitter after cooking.
Now that all the fishes are done, clean them with fresh water until clear water runs through.
Drain all the water and put all the fishes in a bowl.
Sprinkle some salt and turmeric powder over them. Mix the fishes well with them and keep aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile heat the oil on medium flame. The temperature of the oil should be medium. Not too low not too high.
Then throw in the fishes. Do not crowd the pan. The oil should be enough to cover all the fishes. If you crowd the pan all you will get is a mashed up stuff. Also do not stir the fishes too often. That can break the fishes.
After 2-3 minutes, turn over the fishes.
Cook them again for 2 minutes more. No stirring in between. If you see that the oil has become too much hot and the fishes are turning brown simply lower the flame or just put off the flame for a minute.
When the fishes are golden and crispy take the fishes out of the kadai.

Serve hot with rice and ghee / butter, salt and a hot hot green chilli.

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