Once I recall, my grandmother was making her eternal famous "bhapa ilish with shorshe bata", so out of sheer curiosity I told her that let me also help you out in making it. Mind you, it was a large family gathering, with all my uncles and aunties and their little kids, altogether a gathering of 15-16 people- most of the grown-ups themselves better cooks. So, she smiled on my childish wish and told my mother,”Bou ma! Meye tumaar ranna ghore ashte chaye”,here she wants to help us.My mother agreed to all that with a strange expression of “why” on her face and then came a strenuous job to be done-making shorshe bata over sheel-nora.Yes with a bowl of mustard seeds –“black” of course not yellow, green chilies and some cumin seeds, I was made to sit then wet grind it over sheel-nora.That seemed astonishing for many at that time but i was determined to don the cap.Some even teased me that are you preparing yourself for the future endeavors coming your way ,but all that didn't stop me. Here I was working it out my way, over Sheel –Nora making shorshe bata-mustard paste for the gravy of bhapa ilish that was supposed to be served at the lunch time, with a keen and hawk eyed supervisor, my grandmother by my side.
My “hathe-khori “in traditional “Bengali ghoroa ranna”was done like that way. Although I would say, things have changed so much since then, I have latterly stopped using sheel-nora, as I can’t carry sheel-nora everywhere and whenever, I go on changing cities, oh! Countries even-wish I could. I can’t even recall and say “yeah this is our kitchen for the past 4-5 years or so!!”. I have moved, re-located so many times that I have lost count of that. Most of the times things I pack for these voyages, I don’t even care to take them out from suit-case, so leave alone all the props and accessories, electrical gadgets that one can always dream of buying has been put on a pending list of “things to buy”. I won’t say it is a thrilled experience but traveling, discovering new cities, does bring lots of enriching experience and ones perception about many things also change with all these new exposures.And with introduction of many new methods, ingredients , cooking method, as a cook I think I have evolved and still growing . Any how, that bhapa ilish turned nice and my people appreciated the hard labor that I put in for making it. But since I don’t have sheel-nora-shil-batta over here now, so I use mustard powder in place of that- I would say something is better that nothing.And that ilish/hilsa fish being replaced by salmon, a similar oily fish.
( Lunch- Mong'er dal, Chayote Palang Shak'er bori ghonto,Salmon Shorshe)
This time I have used Coleman’s mustard powder as that is what I had at that time, which is somewhat milder than the black mustard seeds paste or the “real shorshe bata”.If you are interested to know – home made mustard powder then you can have a look here or if eager to make fresh mustard seed paste then have a look at this old post . However over these past years, I have experienced that the home-made fresh mustard paste made from only black mustard seeds is the most “jhanjhwala”- the ones which makes you tear out and hit the roof of your palate not the commercialized one.However, if you like little bit of colour into your gravy then it comes from the use of turmeric powder and yellow mustard seeds.
Yogurt and garlic powder adds nice tangy-ness and smell to the gravy.Many do add vinegar also, which I haven’t done so far, not sure how sour that may turn out over-powering the “jhanjhwala” mustard seeds paste-actually it is being added to turn off the bitterness of mustard seeds which happens due to the husk of seeds.Yogurt on the other hand is more subtle and compliments more the mustard gravy. If you happen to get Dijon mustard which has vinegar already, you may use this also, in case you make Shorshe Salmon.
Mustard as I would say – every one has their way of making, grinding and using up in fish or non-veg gravy. There is French mustard, English mustard, Bengali mustard and many more variety, these all can be used in any gravy that calls for the use of mustard seed paste, however the strongest flavor comes from Bengali mustard powder and who shouldn't know it more better other than a Bengali herself-I am bound to be biased here.But to be honest a mustard sauce is a mustard sauce and depends on how one spruces it up.
One can even use the sauce that goes into making hot-dogs- the mustard sauce aka- yellow mustard sauce.
If you do not get mustard oil then one can use normal cooking oil –like vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil etc, but traditional shorshe mach-mustard fish is made only with mustard oil.
These days even in Kolkata, ready-made mustard seed powder packet is available and I have used that also, and to my surprise that did work well.Although I am unable to recall the brand name, may be it was Sunrise brand not sure, but please check and ask in your local grocer store.
A shorshe salmon recipe is for you all who love good food with less fuss and are traveling abroad for study and work.
Salmon shorshe –Salmon with mustard paste
- 3-4 salmon fish fillet
- 3-4 tsp of mustard powder-Coleman's or home-made mustard powder
- 2 tsp of red pepper powder
- 1 tsp of crushed red chilly flakes
- ½ tsp of turmeric powder+ some more to marinate salmon fillet
- ¾ tsp of garlic powder
- 2-3 green chilies
- 2 tbs of yogurt
- 1 tsp of salt
- 4-5 tbs of mustard oil
- Marinate salmon fillets with salt and turmeric powder.Keep aside for half an hour.
- Now heat up a fry pan, add oil, fry the salmon fillets about 3-4 mints both sides.Take out and keep in a bowl.Trick is to fry the fish as such,so that they are not over fried or become too crisp, (just like we do for Hilsa fry-retaining the moisture), we do not fry much unless we tend to eat bhaja mach or fish fry only.
- In that same fry pan/wok or kadai with the left-over oil if any,add about 1 to 1 and half large teacups of water.Add in half amount of red pepper powder, garlic powder,green chilies, crushed red chilly flakes and salt.Let it come to boil.
- Now add in salmon fish fillets, cover it and let it cook slowly about 5-8 mints at medium flame.
- Meanwhile make a thick paste of mustard powder, yogurt and 1 tbs of mustard oil.Add this mustard paste to the above simmering gravy.Mix well and then cover and let it cook about 7-10 mints.Open the cover and add in one tsp of mustard oil, take it off from the flame and serve with warm cooked rice.
- Note- this is fiery hot and spicy preparation, reduce the amount of red pepper powder or green chilly for the milder version, but as is famous saying in my paternal family- "Shorshe mach joto khon mathaye chanti mare na , shorshe mach noye" -
other recipes in net.
Shorshe bata diye mach'er jhol- at Kitchen Karma
Shorshe Salmon jhaal- with tomato and roshun at Bongmom Cookbook
Happy Cooking Friends