New beginnings in Bengali homes usually feature fish! It’s tradition.
So after a hiatus of three months I am back to writing a new post. Let me clarify, I was never out of action (from the kitchen), but what I cooked in the last three months was nothing to write about!
For those who are wondering about my inadequacy at updating a Blog which has evolved as a way of life for me, I have news! I gave birth to a beautiful (Yes, I am biased!) girl about a month ago. She is exactly 27 days old today, and already has a way with her eyes. She uses them to blackmail her parents. I have a feeling she will pout, purr and use other girlie ammunitions for extraction in the future. Just like her Mommy does.
So while my daughter takes her baby naps, I sneak into the kitchen and do a much-asked dish – the Doi Maach. Bengali for fish (it’s always Rohu) cooked in yogurt. This is a traditional Bengali dish which has found its way to weddings and occasional feasts. It often stands out for its silken texture and a balanced sweet, savoury and sour taste. And if you are lucky, you might even find plump raisins in the gravy!
Essentially pieces of raw fish are introduced in the yogurt sauce once its cooked. However, many who do not like the idea of “raw” fish prefer to lightly fry the pieces of fish before they are dunked in the sauce. It’s also important that you choose the right pieces of fish – preferably the gada or the pieces from the back of the Rohu. Ask your fish monger and he will know!
Ingredients for Doi Maach are:
5-6 gada pieces of Rohu fish
6-7 tablespoons plain yogurt, whisked with half a cup of room temperature water
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons ginger paste
Half tablespoon garlic paste
2 bay leaves
2-3 black cardamoms
2-3 green cardamoms
1-2 sticks cinnamon
2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 heaped teaspoon red chili powder
Heat ghee in a thick pan and add the whole spices – cardamoms, bay, cinnamon, cloves with the onions. Sauté till the onions are transparent. Add the raisins at this stage.
Now add the ginger, garlic, red chili powder and turmeric and cook everything till lightly coloured. All on low-medium heat.
It takes about 15-20 minutes of slow cooking, the pan covered all the time to cook the sauce.
You will know when you see the oil bubbling at the sides of the pan. That’s when you know that the gravy is ready. Season with sugar and salt and gently slide in the pieces of fish. Make sure you are using an open-face pan to give you enough room to move around the fish.
It takes about 8-10 minutes for the fish to cook through in the sauce. Do a last taste test and see if the Doi Maach has the right balance of taste. Remove from heat. Its best served with plain white rice.