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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Chitol Maachher Peti'r Jhol

Light Mustard Gravy of Chitol Fish

The  Chitol is a delicacy of Bengal. While the bony 'Gaada' or dorsal part of the fish is deboned and made into Muithas / Koftas, the 'Peti' or belly portion of the fish containing less and more easily manageable bones are delightfully oily and soft.

I personally like the light gravy which brings out the rich taste of the fish rather that the more spicy 'Kalia' preparation where the taste of the fish is submerged in the deluge of onion-ginger-garlic-garam masala. But of course this is a very personal preference.....

Ingredients :

a)Chitol Maachher 'Peti' portion - approx 1 kg
b)Kalo jeera / Kalonji - 1/2 tsp
c)Holud / Haldi /Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
d)Chili powder - 1/2 to 1 tsp
e)Kashmiri Mirch powder - 1 tsp
f)Tomato chopped - 1 small (optional)
g)Dhone/Coriander seeds powder - 1 tsp
h)Sugar - a pinch
i)Salt - to taste
j)Mustard paste - 2 tbsp or more depending on how spicy you want the gravy
k)Mustard Oil - 1 tsbp
l)Green Chilies - 2-3 ..again personal preference
m) Bori / small Lentil dumplings - a handful
n)Dhonepaata / Coriander leaves

Procedure :
1. Shallow fry the fish (after smearing the pieces in a mix of turmeric-salt)

2. Heat oil in a kadai and add ingredients at sl.(b) to (i). Sprinkle some water and cook on medium to high heat till the oil separates. .....Koshano

3. Add the shallow fried fish and gently turn them around in the moshla/masala/spice mix.

4. Add a cup full of water.

5. Add 3-4 tsp of mustard paste mixed with 1/2 cup of water.Cover and bring to a boil. If boris (tiny lentil dumplings) are available, add to the boiling gravy.

6. Add slit green chilies and chopped Dhonepaata.

7.Savour with hot steamed rice. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Chitol Maachher Muitha

Chitol Fish Koftas 

Chitol Maachher Muitha is an essentially "Bangaal" (the erstwhile Eastern region of undivided Bengal which is now present day Bangladesh) delicacy made out of the 'Gaada' (Bonier or dorsal part ) of the fish.

Seeing Chitol Maachh in the supermarket last sunday, I couldnt control my temptation and purchased a huge 2.5 kg fish.
Instructions were immediately taken over phone regarding the cutting of the Gaada-Peti and communicated to my bewildered fish seller!

Rushed back home and called up my cooking encyclopedia, ready with pen and paper, and jotted down the elaborate process of the Muitha making....

Ingredients :
For the Koftas :
The 'Gaada' or bonier part of the fish (the fish I'd bought was 2.5 kgs!!) which was approx 1 kg 
2 medium sized potatoes for every kg of gaada
2 eggs
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
1 small onion - finely chopped
1 small onion - made into paste
Jeera powder - 1 tsp
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Sugar - a pinch

For the gravy :
1 onion - chopped
2 onions - paste
Garam masala - whole, made into a paste/powder 
Tej pata
ginger paste - 1 tsp
garlic paste - 1tsp
1 tomato - chopped (optional)
Chili powder
Kashmiri Chili powder
Jeera powder/paste - 1tsp
Potato 2-3 cubed
Oil (preferably mustard)

Procedure :
Muittha / Kofta - 
I) De-boning of the fish:
1. Wash the fish. Placing it on a flat surface, with the skin on top, hammer it lightly with the Nora of the Sheel-Nora (traditional grinding stone used in Bengali kitchens) or anything heavy

2.The fish will loosen. Now turn it around, so that the fleshy surface faces up and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

Save the skin for kataa chochchori (we Bongs are quite the scavengers ;)) . The pic below is the starting material for Kataa Chochchori

3. Using the Sheel-Nora, grind the fish ...most of the bigger bones will come apart. Now using fingers, mash the fish further and also remove the remaining bones.

If minced, de-boned Chital is available, the rest of the Muitha making is actually a cake-walk.....

II) The rest of the Muitha making -
1. For 1 kg Gaada, use 2 medium sized boiled potatoes and mash them well and mix with the boneless, minced fish. While mixing and mashing, you may be able to remove more fine bones....

2. Add to the minced fish+mashed potato mix : 2 raw eggs, ginger, garlic paste, onion chopped, onion paste, jeera powder, chili powder, salt, sugar. Knead well as in kneading dough.

3. Put a large vessel/kadai full of water to boil. Divide the fish dough into fist sized (mutho/muitha) spheres. And slide into the boiling water. Cook for about 15 minutes. Turn the spheres from time to time. To check if done, insert a fork/needle as we do in baking. If it comes out clean, it's done.

4. Take the 'spheres' out of the water. Keep aside to cool. When cooled, cut them into approx 1.5" cubes.

5. Shallow fry them lightly.

These can make delicious finger food/snacks/starter and in case that's what you intend to make them into, fry them till they are crispy and golden brown.

The Gravy :
1. Heat oil in a kadai. Add the chopped onion, paste of garam masala, tej pata, a pinch of sugar. 
2. Along with the above 'phoron', the cubed potatoes may be added to avoid sauteing them separately.
3. When the onions are light brown in colour, add onion paste, ginger-garlic paste, chili powder, kashmiri chili, jeera powder, salt and tomato. Fry them in medium to high heat....'Koshano' or 'Bhunoing'
4. After the oil separates from the cooked masala, gently slide in the fried Muitthas / Koftas. Turn them around gently to cover them in the masala/spice mix and fry for a minute or so....add about 2 cups of water to make a gravy of medium thickness. Cover and bring to a boil.
5. Just before taking it off the flame, add a tbspn of ghee and 1/2 tsp of powder garam masala (without roasting) (garam masala at the end is optional, though)

The Chitol Maachher Muittha is ready to be savoured with plain steamed rice.

This post is being linked to "Spotlight: Show Your Best Creation" @ Cuisine Delights

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cheesy Vegetable Fritters

Fritters / Chops/Cutlets made of Chhana (Fresh & fluffy Paneer), grated Cheddar Cheese and any finely chopped vegetables

Simple, fast and delicious....that's the other name of this dish.

Ingredients :
Chhana / Paneer from 2.5 litres full cream milk
Grated processed cheese  (used Amul) - 4-5 cubes or as many as you want
Any finely chopped vegetables : I used carrot, beans, capsicum, finely sliced babycorn, sweet corn kernels, mushrooms
Chopped garlic
Chopped Onions
butter / oil
Tej pata
Crushed peppercorns
Pepper powder
Oregano powder
Bread crumbs
Oil for frying

Procedure :

1. Curdle boiling milk with lemon/vinegar to make Chhana/Chhena/Paneer/Cottage cheese. Drain away the whey and press it lightly to retain the softness and fluffiness of the Chhana.

2. In a kadai, heat the butter. Add tej pata & crushed pepper corns into the heated butter, followed by chopped garlic and onions. Fry till golden brown.

3. Now add the chopped vegetables in descending order of hardness.....carrot, beans, baby corns ...capsicum etc...all in medium to high heat. If using mushrooms, better to saute them separately as mushroom will give out loads of water and make the other veggies soggy. We want the veggies to retain their crunchiness

4. Mix the crunchy fried veggies with the soft paneer and toss the mix in the kadai to mix well.

5. In the hot mix, gradually add the grated cheese and keep stirring. The cheese will melt and assimilate into the rest of the chhana-veggie mix.

6. After cooling, shape the doh-like chhana-cheese-veggie mix into friiters. Dip into a thin batter of cornflour+water and then roll in bread crumbs.

8. Shallow fry and serve with sauce, chutney or as it is....