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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Muri Ghonto....A Heady Delight!!

That we Bongs love fish is an understatement. But this delicacy proves beyond doubt our unadulterated love for anything fishy!!
We dont spare the poor fish's head and manage to dish out mouthwatering culinary delight out of the head of the fish.

Before I proceed to narrate the recipe, let me give you a sneak peek into the Bong's fish eating tradition. As I have told you earlier, to the Bengali, fish means more than mere food. It is an intrinsic part of the Bengali culture, tradition, religious and social ritual. Another peculiar and interesting custom is the designation of the fish parts as per the family hierarchy...the Fish Head (Maachher Muro) or the Fish Tail (Lej/Lyaja) are the parts reserved for those held in the highest esteem. The son-in-law of the family receives an almost royal treatment and he is the de facto recipient of the largest Fish head available in the market...

It was a cause for immense merriment and leg-pulling when my parents' son-in-law (aka SD), was in a sorry spot when as the guest-of-honour, he was served a massive head and tail on the day after our wedding (Baashi Biye). He loves fish but is extremely uncomfortable in handling these choice portions of head & tail!!!!

Before I lose track amidst the never ending tales of heads and tails, let me revert to the Heady Delight of Muri Ghonto...a mix of Fish head, Potato, Rice, flavoured with spices and ghee.....

Ingredients :-
1. Fish head - washed clean several times over (I used half the head of a 2kg Kaatla fish)
2. Potatoes -2 cut into big pieces
3. Gobindo Bhog Rice / Basmati Rice - 1/2 cup. (I used Gobindo Bhog Rice)
4. Onion - finely chopped - 1
5. Tomato - 1 diced into small pieces
6. Whole garam masala- 2-3 cardamoms, 1 piece of 1" cinnamon stick, 3-4 cloves
7. Bay Leaf - 2 small
8. Masala paste - [1 tsp of Turmeric powder + 1 tsp cumin powder + 1/2 tsp of coriander powder + 1 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp of kashmiri mirch powder (for colour) + 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder (optional) mixed with a little water]
9. Ginger paste - 1-2 tsp
10. Garlic paste - 1 tsp (Optional...traditionally, Bongs use very little garlic in their cooking)
11. Ghee - 1 tbsp
12. Roasted & ground garam masala - 1 tsp
13. Sugar - a pinch
14. Slit Green chilli - 2-3
15. Mustard Oil - 3 tbsp

Procedure :- (In the sequence I do)
1. Soak washed Gobindo Bhog/Basmati rice in water.
2. Rub salt and turmeric on the washed fish head and keep for 10-15 minutes
2. Cut the potatoes into big cubes and rub them with a little salt and turmeric and lightly fry them in oil and keep aside.
3. Fry the fish head till crisp and break the head into smaller pieces.
4.Take fresh oil in a wok. When hot, add the Bay leaf, whole garam masala & the garlic paste
5. Add the masala paste. Stir and let the masala cook till you see the oil & masala separate.
6. Add the ginger paste followed by finely chopped onions and add a pinch of sugar for colour
7. Fry the onions to brown them but take care not to burn them. Add the chopped tomatoes
8. Keep stirring and cook on low to medium heat for about 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle water if required.
9. Add the uncooked rice. Stir well and let the masala seep into the rice.
10. Add the pre-fried potato cubes. Add some water (about 1/2 glass)
12. Keep cooking and when the rice is semi cooked in the masala, add the broken fish head pieces.
13. Stir well and add some more water if it has become too dry.
14. Cook on low heat for another 10 minutes.
15. Keep checking and stirring from time to time.
16. The rice should not be overcooked but the rice, potatoes and fish head should be well blended as is characteristic of any Bengali 'ghonto'
17. Add the slit green chillies
18. Before switching off the flame, heat the ghee in a skillet and add a tsp of roasted & ground garam masala and add this to the almost done 'Muri Ghonto'.

The amazing aroma of the blend that is Muri Ghonto will tickle your taste buds alive and you are ready to taste these heady delicacy with hot steamed rice!


naperville mom said...

I loved your story of the head and the tail. Personally, I love the tail. Have you tried fried silver pomfret tails? Yummy... I don't spare the fins too...Never tried potatoes with fish though, have to give it a try, thanks:)

SGD said...

@NM-Thanks ....
Do you deep fry the silver pomfret tails to make them crispy & crunchy??
Any marination required? Will try them out..

Potatoes with fish is a patent Bong favourite... in the light fish curries (with Rohu/Kaatla) for daily consumption, potatoes are quite a common presence...

HR said...

In the picture I find two boiled eggs properly fried ... these are eggs or potatoes?... is it not necessary to fry the pieces of fish head before the actual process starts?.. otherwise the smell of raw fish head may remain in the final dish... actually I do not know the procedure.. it was just a guesswork...

SGD said...

@HR-Boiled eggs in Muri Ghonto??????? Ore shaabaash!!! Eto kelenkaari!! These are definitely potatoes , lightly fried before adding to the gravy. And yes of course the fish head has to be fried....Point 3 of Procedure!! And you are absolutely right....without frying fish head wouldnt taste good at all!! ;):)

HR said...

O.K. Thanks!!.. Actually I missed point no.3

Pradip Biswas said...

What a coincidence! we are having hoilday for Pre-holi and boys just returned from the river with a big catch. It is not a Rohu but some kind of a big fish with a big head. Adivasis do not eat head so i asked them to give me the head and I am going to cook you receipe right now.

SGD said...

Lucky you...fresh fish caught from the river!!! I envy your workplace....right amidst nature...and here we are sitting amidst everything artificial and not natural!!!
And I'm so honoured and glad that you used my did it turn out???

Pradip Biswas said...

Some one made a practical joke out of me. He told that Rice is to fried along with dry Masala making it a murri and then fried fish head is to be added.I was told like that and it was made like that.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Amrita Datta said...

I am very wary of online recipes, because I have litrally wasted a lot of time following them as is.
This particular muri ghonto recipe was the first recipe I followed as is and yet it turned out to be just as promised! Excellent! I could almost smell my mom's and mom's mom's muri ghonto. Since I am many ocean's away and cannot taste either's, this is my cure to home sickness and bengaliness.
To say the least....Thanks so much for the recipe!
God Bless.

SGD said...

@Amrita-Sorry for such a delayed response...i have become a v.irregular blogger and in absentia for almost a year now!

But it's feedback like yours which makes me want to blog again!

So glad you liked it. And about tasting like Mom's and Mom's mom, I followed my Mom's recipe to the hilt!

Hotel Management entrance exam 2016 said...

I came across your blog while looking for some bengali food recipes and liked a lot. How amazing! I will keep an eye on your post.