We do get frozen whole Rui Fish here from Bangladeshi food stores but many times the incidents that were associated with fish buying in India is missing. Actually I do really miss the whole process of buying fish from local fish markets in Kolkata. Even bargaining with them and then checking on various parameters for freshness of the fish body. I mean the whole chaotic process of buying fresh fish from fish vendors in India.
In UP, where I have spent my entire life except after marriage, our grandparents had fixed “machwali”, who would turn up every alternate day in the morning with her fresh supply of fish, which she and her husband would be catching up daily, in early wee morning hours, from river Ganges. Our grandparents were so accustomed of her presence that if she would not turn up any day, they seemed to get worried for her a lot. We even used to pass on our old clothes, books and many other gifts to her kids. Over a period of time, these and many more such people had become part of our more or less, family. Recalling back, her typical fish smelling body, was enticed even more with her betel leaves/ pan-chewing habit or rather the “Gutkas”, but I as a kid , would never liked that and it used to put me off always .
When-ever, she would try to get friendly with me, her betel stained teeth created a long barricade. She would grin occasionally and seeing that I would run away, and she would always burst into laughter. But every holiday time, she would anticipate our presence and would get excited and happy to see us.
I was even skeptical of eating the fish she would be selling to us. After much persuasion by my grandparents, I would eat the fish made that day.
But my Ma is an excellent cook, so whenever she would be making this Rui -Kalia recipe, which she herself mastered cooking over these years after her marriage to Baba, the entire home would get filled with the smell of “koshano moshla”.That heavenly feeling, aroma coming out from kitchen and cooking with the fresh catch for the day, whether it’s “Rui” or “Katla” was much appreciated, eaten and cherished by our family.
Trying to re-create that old recipe with frozen Rui fish and with limited means, is like asking for “jeera - unth ke muh mein.” Anyways (I am not camel) and jokes apart, cumin powder is essential, so is coriander powder and if possible freshly churned spices or paste made over sheel-nora is the key to fragrant and scrumptious Rui Mach’er Kalia.
Now to the recipe
Rui Mach'er Kalia-(A Spicy, gravy based preparation of Rui /Rohu Fish)
Recipe requirements( serves 3-4 )
- 5-6 Rui/Rohu fish pieces
- 2 medium size onions
- 5 large grated garlic
- 4 tsp of grated ginger
- 2 medium size tomatoes
- ¼ cup of peanuts or cashews
- Seasoning and tempering/phoron
- ½ tsp of cumin seeds
- 3-4 tej patta
- 3-4 cloves
- 2 cardamoms
- 1 tsp of turmeric powder and little bit more to marinate fish pieces
- 2 tsp of red pepper powder
- 2 green chilies (adjust hotness according to personal taste)
- 2 -3 heaped tsp of coriander powder
- 1 tsp of cumin powder
- 1 tsp of salt and little bit more to marinate fish pieces
- 1 tsp of freshly churned garam masala
- ½ cup of mustard oil
- Two pinch of sugar
- 1 cup of finely chopped coriander
- De-scale fish pieces( no need to do if you are based in India, you already do get de-scaled fish pieces from your fish mongers).Wash them very well in water and discard water , pat them dry if possible otherwise not compulsory. Sprinkle turmeric powder and salt, rub all it over the fish pieces, leave aside for half an hour.
- Meanwhile fish is marinating, make a smooth paste of onions and cashews or peanuts (soak them in water for half an hour so that they go soft and easily can be made into paste with onions), then again make smooth puree of tomatoes separately. Peel and grate garlic and ginger.
- Heat up a saucepan or Kadai /wok; add in mustard oil, fry fish pieces each side for 5-6 mints, till they turn nicely brown in color.
- Now in that oil left after frying fish pieces, add in cumin seeds, tej patta, cloves, and crushed cardamom.
- Add in grated garlic and ginger, fry it for 2-3 mints or till the rawness is gone.
- Now add in onion paste, keep on frying for 3-4 mints. Add in all the dry ingredients- turmeric powder, red pepper powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, salt and sugar. Add in tomato puree to this with ½ cup of water.Add in slit green chilies now.
- Let it all cook and fry for 5-6 mints at medium-high flame or the entire masala becomes somewhat dry. When the oil start to appear at the sides of the fried masala or “rang dhorano koshanor por “ in Bengali , about after 10-12 mints, then add in 2 cups of water. Let the gravy come to one strong boil.
- Add in fried fish pieces and garam masala.Cover the saucepan and let it simmer for 10 -15 mints at medium-low flame. Add in mustard oil at last when the entire gravy turns somewhat deep in colour and semi-dry, “makha-makha” in Bengali. Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves.
Note- Salmon, pomfret, bhetki,Carp, sea bass all the firm fish can be replaced with Rui/Rohu fish.Many times I tend to add small cherry tomatoes in place of plum tomatoes. And make this fish curry in mustard oil for that authentic Bengali touch.
Happy Cooking and Have nice weekend Everybody!