Saturday, April 24, 2010

Labeo Rohita In Mustard Sauce, And Stir-Fried Greens On The Side

Of all the things I anticipated eating by being a Bengali is fish. How unpredictable!

If I recollect correctly, it was in grade eight that I learnt the biological name of rui maach is Labeo Rohita. I had a bad hand at science drawings then, so my grandmother or my little sister used to make all those diagrams for me - Rana Tigrina (frog), Rattus (rat), Ornithorhynchus Anatinus (platypus), or Periplaneta Americana (cockroach).

The only thing I have come gastronomically close to in the above mentioned living beings are frog legs, which upon picking up a packet at a Chinatown store, I quickly backtracked and went straight to the fruits and vegetables section. All my affinity for French and Cantonese cooking did not make me eat frogs for dinner.

But Rui (Rohu) or Labeo Rohita has remained with me since my childhood, in all its forms – jhaal, jhol, bhaja, chop, muri ghonto, just to name a few preparations.

I will concentrate on the jhaal today, which essentially has a mustard base and when literally translated means “hot”. Probably because of the two ingredients, mustard and green chilies which add an unmistakable zing to this dish. It also has a thicker consistency as compared to its cousin, the jhol which is rather runny.

For Rui Maacher Jhaal you will need:

4 pieces of Rohu fish
1 medium size tomato cut into thick slices
2 tablespoon fresh mustard (yellow) paste
Few green chilies, slit lengthwise
Few sprigs of coriander, chopped fine
2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
Mustard oil

IMG_7468 Apply salt and turmeric powder to the pieces of fish and deep fry them in piping hot mustard oil. Keep aside.
IMG_7470 IMG_7472I made my mustard paste at home by first dry grinding yellow mustard seeds in my blender and then adding a tablespoon of water to make a paste. The traditional way of doing it is on the stone grinder.
IMG_7476Take one tablespoon of the remaining mustard oil (leftover from the fried fish), heat it in a wide-mouthed pan. Add nigella seeds and sauté for a few seconds.
IMG_7475Add the sliced tomatoes and green chilies and cook for a few minutes.
IMG_7486Make a not-so-thin sauce with the mustard paste, a cup of water, one teaspoon turmeric powder, red chili powder and salt.

Add that to the tomatoes and green chilies. Cook this sauce or jhaal for 5-7 minutes on high flame till all the raw taste of the mustard goes away. IMG_7488Gently add the pieces of fried fish and cook it on high flame for 5-7 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander.
IMG_7493IMG_7494IMG_7497 Serve with plain white rice and some side, like this spinach stir fry (Shaak Bhaja) I made today.

2 cups very finely chopped spinach
2 teaspoon yellow moong dal
3-4 green chilies broken from the middle
1 dry red chili
2 tablespoon mustard oil

IMG_7478Heat oil in a pan, add the moong dal and chilies.
IMG_7483Sauté for a couple of minutes and add the spinach.
IMG_7485Season with salt and sugar. Stir fry till the spinach wilts and all the moisture evaporates. A shaak bhaja like this is usually the first course of a Bengali meal. Its mixed with rice and eaten without complaining about being fed greens!


Saswati said...

Pree the rui macher jhal is making my mouth water.we are i can relate so much to your style of cooking....we call this besara macha but then the mustard paste is cooked with a lil yoghurt,tomato and mustard with fish is new for me...will try your version too:)

PreeOccupied said...

@Saswati, yes, I know about mixing a little yogurt to the mustard sauce and then cooking the fish in it. Honestly, I have never tried doing that. Do you have a recipe I can follow? I have plenty of Rohu in my freezer now. :-)

Abhaya said...

Hey Pree, my recipe is pretty similar, just that I add a little bit of chopped onions before adding the tomatoes.

PreeOccupied said...

@Abhaya, yes and do you also add garlic paste? I know many people in Bihar who do mix garlic and mustard and then make this recipe. For us Bongs, garlic and mustard together are a strict no-no. :-)

Jayanta Ghosh 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.
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