Sunday, May 02, 2010

Rui Maacher Kalia

I am certain all traditional Bengali wedding feasts have served the Rui Maacher Kalia, before the buffet days came and spoilt it all with their chowmeins, vegetarian machurians, and chicken jhalfreizis. Not to mention the Fish Begum Bahar!
Bengali weddingI am yet to understand why traditional Bengali wedding feasts had to be replaced by these modern-day buffets where everything pretty much tasted the same. Plus you had to queue up in front of the food with cheap China or melamine plates, instead of being “served” like a queen!

As a kid, the only thing that got me excited about weddings were their feasts. I would plan for days what I’d wear and more importantly which were the things I’d eat or say no to. To the Bubais and the Baantys who would come loaded with “items” to be served for the biyer bhoj (wedding feast). They would come serving rows of guests sitting cross-legged on dhurries from a certain Raja Tent House, eating off shaal paata’r thala (sal leaf plates).
sal leaf plates

Sitting cross-legged at wedding feasts, sometimes with complete strangers had its own challenges. I was often troubled by the feeling of my knees rubbing with other people, and if I was flanked by my cousins, it would soon become a war of the knees, knocking each other’s knee caps – tomfoolery becoming very violent until one of us got screamed at by some elder. But what tormented me most was that leaking khuri, or a missing wedge of lemon which Shontu da forgot to drop on my plate while his brother Montu was neatly giving pinches of salt to everyone.

I would be a finicky eater too, carefully declining the less interesting shaak or begun bhaja and waiting for the real delicacies. I mostly swayed between luchi-cholaar dal and mansgho-pulao. Nothing in between.

The in between was always the king of all fish- Rohu in its kalia form. I was definitely not going to eat Rui Maacher Kalia which always preceded the mutton curry. Why would I, when I got to eat it at least once a week at home! And this is how my Mum would make it the days the maach wala (fish monger) got paka rui (a full grown fish of about 2.5+ kilos).IMG_7746

Ingredients for the Rui Maacher Kalia are:

4 pieces of Rohu (gaada pieces)
2 medium size potatoes cut into halves
1 medium size red onion finely chopped
1 medium size ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
Handful of finely chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons garlic paste
2 teaspoons ginger paste
Pinch of garam masala powder
2 + 1 teaspoons turmeric powder
2 teaspoons red chili powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 small cinnamon stick
2 green cardamoms
1 black cardamom
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
Mustard oil

Rub salt and a couple of teaspoons of turmeric powder on the pieces of fish. IMG_7727Heat mustard oil in a wok and deep fry the fish.
IMG_7729In the same oil, fry the potato halves till they get golden on the edges. Keep aside while you ready ingredients for the gravy.IMG_7730Heat the leftover oil from frying the fish (reduce if more than two tablespoon), add whole spices Рbay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms and saut̩ for a minute. I always add a pinch of sugar and let it caramelize before I add the chopped onions. This way the gravy gets a rich, dark color, the trademark of a kalia (a rich preparation of fish, meat or vegetables using generous quantities of oil or ghee and a sauce made of ginger-garlic paste and onions, flavored with gorom moshla).
IMG_7732 IMG_7731
Fry the onions till they get a nice golden color, but not burn.
IMG_7733Now add the ginger-garlic paste and fry till they get cooked.
IMG_7735Now add the powdered spices – red chili, cumin, coriander and turmeric. 
IMG_7737Add the chopped tomatoes. Keep pressing the tomatoes with the back of the ladle to get the juices out. All this cooking needs to be done on low-medium heat. Season with salt and sugar.
IMG_7738Add little water along with the pieces of fried potatoes and simmer.IMG_7739Once the potatoes are cooked, add the pieces of fried fish. Cook on high for five minutes. Season with some garam masala powder (I make a homemade powder of cloves, cinnamon and cardamom).
IMG_7741Fried fish is already cooked, and overcooking would be disastrous as the pieces get mashed and start disintegrating.

Remove the wok from heat and garnish with chopped coriander.
IMG_7742 Have a homemade Bengali bhoj with Basmati rice and this Rui Maacher Kalia. Believe me, there is nothing in between about it!
IMG_7743 IMG_7747


Soma said...

That looks scrumptious! No nothing in between macher Kalia and gorom bhat. may be some chatni later?


Saswati said...

that macher kaalia looks perfect pree:)my goodness your dishes make me hungry.sorry for the delay in response regarding your query abt the mississippi mud cake.Pree the flour mentioned in the recipe does look more if you take into consideration the amt of oil i have mentioned.The recipe asks for butter as well as cream so the final outcome is a perfect batter and a baked cake with a moist texture.
regarding the fish with mustard paste and tamarind....i am aware of it but then i don't know the exact proportions of the ingredients...will enquire and mail you the recipe:)

The knife said...

I was really excited when I got my first taste of a Bengali wedding after I came to india. I was about 8 then and took pride in serving salt and lemon onto people's banana leaves. Miss that.

Rui kaalia is our favourite rui preparation and we have this biye barir bhoj on regular days too

Shilpa said...

Am just loving your food recipes... so very yummy :)

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