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....
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
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
ginger paste - 1 tsp
garlic paste - 1tsp
1 tomato - chopped (optional)
Kashmiri Chili powder
Jeera powder/paste - 1tsp
Potato 2-3 cubed
Oil (preferably mustard)
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
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.