LAST MONTH, when I bought my favourite river fish Rohu and wanted to have doi maach (fish cooked with curd), I did not have to call up my mother for the recipe. She was visiting me and I just told her to instruct the cook. Like always, I did not try to learn it myself. For, I knew my mother would be just a phone call away, if not physically there, whenever I needed her for guidance on this front.
Little did I know that in less than a month later I would be cooking doi maach and she won’t be there to tell me the recipe the hundredth time. I had to prepare the dish last week as part of niyom bhongo (a ritual for the family to resume eating normal routine food after the death of a member). Ma suffered a brain hemorrhage and left us in the last week of September after remaining in coma for 15 days – the reason why I was away for such a long time.
Now that I am back and have finally sat down to write, no recipe other than doi maach is coming to my mind.
Here it goes.
Food for Thought: Doi Maach
Fish: 1 kg
Curd: 250 grams
Onions: 4 (medium)
Green chillies: 3-4
Ginger: 1 inch
Turmeric powder: ½ tea spoon
Red chilli powder: ½ teaspoon
Whole garam masala: 2 tablespoons
Salt: To taste
Sugar: 1 teaspoon
Mustard oil: As per requirement
Marinate the fish with curd, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and a little mustard oil and set aside for at least 30 minutes. Grind onions, ginger and green chillies into a smooth paste. Separately, 1½ tablespoons of whole garam masala with a little water. Heat oil in a pan and fry the marinated fish till golden brown and set aside. In the same pan, add more oil (or use the leftover) and caramelise the sugar before frying some cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Add the ground onion and fry it with salt, turmeric and red chilli powder till the paste leaves the sides. Now add the fish, pour some water and let it cook for five-odd minutes, or till the fish softens a bit. Sprinkle the ground garam masala and your ‘doi maach’ is ready to be served with hot steamed rice.
Last words: Bengali food tastes best if cooked in mustard oil. But you can use any other oil that suits your taste. Another way to cook the dish is to fry the fish first just with some salt, turmeric and red chilli powder and use the curd with the onion paste. If the curd is too sour, a little sugar can be added to the gravy to balance it out.