Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Bong in Me- Part 1

I love Bengali cuisine. I did not always, because for me, it was an acquired taste. Almost all my neighbours back home are Bengali. I really had no chance to escape their influence growing up, so finally, I succumbed. I will often repeat myself here that I dont much care for fish/sea food. Let me modify my stance- I do like fish cooked the Bengali way! There, I have said it publicly.

Around a year or so ago, I was searching for food blogs with autehntic Bengali recipes, especialy Bhapa Doi- Steamed, sweetened Yoghurt- a Begali dessert and a huge delicacy even amongst us non Bengalis. Trawling through the net, I stumbled upon this lovelyyyyy blog called preeoccupied . I was in love. Loved her posts on  food/cooking and life in general.... She is a Bengali who makes the most mundane meals look exotic! On her blog, I also found almost all of the traditional,authentic Bengali recipes. When facebook happened , I drew major inspiration from her pcitures and the sheer effort she puts in to everything she cooks. She says she cooks because she cares! And it shows! (And I know I started a sentence with And. Twice.It is OK) This blog actually owes it's inspiration to Pree. Do go and visit her and enjoy the visual feast(s). In the mean time I am sharing a simple steamed Pomfret recipe, taken and adapted from here. 

The recipe requires Ilish or Hilsa, however, I was impatient to recreate my childhood memories of eating fish steamed in mustard sauce at my Bengali friends' homes. I was also more anxious about getting the marinade right the first time rather than fuss about the kind of fish, and anyway, what will I know about the 'right' fish!! So I made it with fresh white Pomfret. Again the original recipe requires use of Banana leaves to make little parcels for the marinated fish pieces, mine were over, so modified with the use of kitchen foil. I am sure the banana leaves gives it a unique flavour and can probably not be substituted, but anyhow, maybe next time.

How to:

1 medium to large size of : Pomfret
1 tsp of Poppy seeds( optional , since for readers of the Middle East, use of Poppy seeds is banned)
1 tsp of Mustard seeds each-of yellow and fine + the bigger, black ones
4-5 fresh green chillis
1 tsp, levelled turmeric powder
Salt to taste
2-4 tbsp of Mustard oil.

Also need a steaming contraption. I simply used a sauce pan filled 1/4 with water and set on rolling boil with a steel strainer on it. Like below.

In a coffee grinder/mixer, grind all the seeds together, then add about 2 tbsp of water, green chillis, turmeric powder. I also added half of the oil being used. Make a thick paste. Marinate the fish in this for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Drizzle the remaining oil over it . I marinated mine  for almost 4 hours because I was busy and did not have time to cook it before that. Well, that was good because Pomfret has a thick skin, so by the time I did get around to steaming it, it had absorbed the marinade perfectly. Now, wrap the fish lightly in almunium foil and seal all edges. Steam for 20 minutes on medium to high heat. Serve warm with plain steamed rice. Or in my case, with a big bowl of salad greens only. :) Everybody, give it up for my lovely lady Pomfret posing for us.

This was bliss after oh, so many years!!!