Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Chachra / Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry with Fish Heads

I am loyal to my beloved “Chachra” from the days of kindergarten. A big bowl of khichdi with a generous amount of chachra...and I am pleased. Yes...it was that simple. And since mother used to make khichdi frequently in monsoon, chachra was something that appeared in our menu more than it should have been.

easy and simple bengali recipe and preparation Chachra recipe / Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry with Fish Heads recipe with step by step pictures

But there is something in its mushy, thick, sticky texture...that we...irrespective of age were truly, madly and deeply in love with it. There is a vegetarian version of this vegetable curry, which we call labra, but we all like the carnivore version more.

easy and simple bengali recipe and preparation Chachra recipe / Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry with Fish Heads recipe with step by step pictures
Fry the eggplants.
easy and simple bengali recipe and preparation Chachra recipe / Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry with Fish Heads recipe with step by step pictures
Temper the rest of the oil with panch foron, dry red chilli and bay leaf.
easy and simple bengali recipe and preparation Chachra recipe / Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry with Fish Heads recipe with step by step pictures
Add the onions and cook till lightly golden.
easy and simple bengali recipe and preparation Chachra recipe / Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry with Fish Heads recipe with step by step pictures
Add the ginger - garlic- chilli past and cook for another 2 minutes.
easy and simple bengali recipe and preparation Chachra recipe / Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry with Fish Heads recipe with step by step pictures
Add all the vegetables.
easy and simple bengali recipe and preparation Chachra recipe / Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry with Fish Heads recipe with step by step pictures
Sprinkle salt, turmeric powder and mix in. Put cover and let the vegetables cook.
easy and simple bengali recipe and preparation Chachra recipe / Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry with Fish Heads recipe with step by step pictures
After 10-12 minutes add the spinach leaves and stems.
easy and simple bengali recipe and preparation Chachra recipe / Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry with Fish Heads recipe with step by step pictures
Mix and cook them until they are wilted.
easy and simple bengali recipe and preparation Chachra recipe / Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry with Fish Heads recipe with step by step pictures
Then add the fried eggplants.
easy and simple bengali recipe and preparation Chachra recipe / Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry with Fish Heads recipe with step by step pictures
Add the fried and broken fish heads and cook till everything is well incorporated and mushy.
easy and simple bengali recipe and preparation Chachra recipe / Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry with Fish Heads recipe with step by step pictures
Finally sprinkle the ground panch foron and put off the flame.
Generally we add Pui Saak / Malabar Spinach in labra / chachra, but since it’s not available in Africa, I opted for simple spinach leaves and its stems. The flavour comes out a little different...but that’s okay!! As long as the fish heads are in it, we can go a long way with any version of this curry.

Chachra / Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry with Fish Heads
Serves 3-4

Ingredients:
2 fish heads of large fishes
1 large onion – sliced
4 fat cloves of garlic – paste
½ inch ginger – paste
2 medium potatoes – peeled and cut into wedges
1 medium eggplant – cut into wedges
1 cup cubed pumpkin
2 cups of spinach leaves and its stem
1 cup ridge gourd / jhinga
1 small radish – peeled and cut into wedges
A handful of cauliflower – cut into small florets
A handful of cabbage – shredded and blanched
1 tsp panch foron / Bengali five spices
2 dry red chillies (optional)
1 tsp panch foron guro / powdered Bengali five spices (dry roast the whole spice and then grind them to a fine powder)
½ cup mustard oil
2-3 tsp turmeric powder
2-3 green chillies – chopped
Salt

Method:
 Sprinkle some salt and turmeric powder over the fish heads and let them marinate for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, heat the oil in a akadai and fry the fish heads until golden. Once done take them out of the pan and keep aside to cool down. Once they cool down break the fish head with the back of a spoon and get rid of small pieces of the heads.
Fry the eggplant pieces in that remaining oil until they start to soften up. Then take them out of the pan and keep aside.
Temper the remaining oil with panch foron and dry red chillies.
Then add the sliced onions and cook them until lightly golden.
Add the ginger – garlic paste to it and cook to make onions nicely brown.
Then add all the veggies in it, except the fried eggplants. Sprinkle some salt and turmeric powder over them, mix them well and put cover to sweat the veggies.
Stir after every 3-4 minutes to cook all the vegetables evenly. Do not add any water to them, and do stir to mash up everything as much as possible.
When the veggies are almost done add the spinach leaves and spinach stems.
Mix well and put cover again. After 3-4 minutes, when the leaves have wilted, add the fried eggplants.
Mix them too and cook until the vegetables are all nively cooked.
Now add the fish heads. I always break the heads and pick out the small pieces. But you can add them whole if you like.
Now cook for another 2-3 minutes, so that they fishes can be nicely mixed with them and soak up their flavour.
Finally add the panch foron guro / ground Bengali five spices and give a final stir.

Serve hot with rice and dal.

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