Alu Diye Rui Macher Jhol: A must have for ‘mache Bhate Bangali’ ( Rahu Fish Gravy cooked with potatoes-A must have for Fish eating Bengali)
Bengali’s are one fish loving folks. We have 100 different ways of making fish. Rahu, Katla, Ilish, Chingri and 100 other kinds dominate our everyday meal. Although I did not grow up eating them, my father‘s liking for all thing called fish had huge influence on me. Later when we moved to India, like most Bengali’s they also became my obsession. My mother’s house in Bangladesh has ponds. My family actually firmed sweet water fish and occasionally when all grandchildren ( all of us) goes home, my grandfather would have fisher men catch some fish for us. I hated the idea always. I hated the idea of eating ‘pet’. Nevertheless, I liked the adventure. Early morning, just before sunrise, all the jele (fishermen) would be in the pond in a circle with their net all over the pond. They would scream and slowly move closer to the centre of the circle. Then they slowly would pull the net towards the edge of the pond. Me, standing beside my grandfather, almost hiding behind him, would look at the fish with excitement. Fish…this big ( I guess they looked big as I was too small), so many of them, jumping in the net. The fishermen would then only keep some and let the rest go. The color of the fish- silver, gray sometimes and red as well. Jumping. I liked the act of catching fish- fishermen, the pond, the screaming, fishermen’s walking in the pond and then suddenly net full of silver fish jumping. But I also wanted them to let go of all the fish. They cannot do that. That’s when I would be really sad. Then came the cutting, cleaning and equal divide of the fish among all families (my grandfather’s was a joint family with separate kitchen. And they were jaminders and still are actually. Everyone knows my mother’s family in Noakhali). The dadu ( grandfather) used to wait for me to be home to call the jele to catch fish. For him it was his way of making me feel special. But I used to be really upset that he was treating us his pet fish from his this this this big fish tank.
Now, dadu is no more and no one catches the fish. When we went home in 2008, we spent time feeding them muri ( puffed rice). Wished dadu was there with us.
I am cooking a fish gravy that is very common is Bengali household for both lunch and dinner. I am using Rahu fish that I got from Brick lane. You can use red snapper, mullet, sea bream or katla.
6- piece of Rahu fish, cleaned and washed
4- Potatoes, clean and cut lengthwise
1-teaspoon turmeric powder
1-teaspoon of red chili powder ( use kashmiri chili powder or paprika in case you do not want your gravy hot)
Pinch of sugar (optional)
Oil as require and as per taste
1. Rub little salt, red chili powder, turmeric powder over the fish
2. Heat some oil and fry the fish, until nicely reddish brown on both the sides
3. Take them off and keep aside
4. Fry the potatoes and keep aside
5. Meanwhile mix rest of the chili, turmeric, cumin powder with little water and make a watery paste
6. Heat rest of the oil and add whole cumin and bay leave
7. When the cumin is fried , you can smell , add the spice paste
9. Fry the spice mix until oil separates
10. Then add potatoes and little water and fry
11. Add water, depending on how much gravy you want
12. When the water start to boil add fried fish
14. Reduce the gravy and make sure fish is cooked and the gravy well mixed. The gravy should not be too watery
15. Serve with hot boiled white rice and dal
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