Monday, 1 July 2013

Changu Machher Gota Bhaja (Changu Fish Fry) by Debasish B

Amader HNesel Thekey...From Our Kitchen (Series):

Guest Post by Dr. Debasish Bhattacharya.

We, I mean Mandira and Debasish. Since long we have been planning to document some of our preparations. A constant encouragement from our daughter Anandi helped us taking up this assignment.

We love cooking and hope that we shall enjoy sharing our passion with all our near and dear ones. And, now we have started this series……

Though we have a regular cook at home, whenever we like, we either ask her to enjoy a planned French leave or sometimes take her help in assisting us. We have noticed that cooking has a special impact, at least on us. This works as a stress buster. When we find that we are bogged down with the burden of professional work, do not get the right way to come out with the right kind of results or working long hours bending shoulders, feel disgusted……just then if we feel like doing something good……close to our heart, we take up a kitchen assignment, I mean cooking. And then we start planning, collecting essentials, processing for cooking. This doubles up with our keen interest of having some good food. And thus……we get freshened up and recharged for getting into completion of unfinished professional tasks.

In this series, our dishes will come without following any norms…..vegetarian / non-vegetarian, salty / spicy / sweet / sour, dry or with gravy…..whichever will be cooked will be documented and placed on blog for sharing with all our friends. While doing so, we shall inform the place, time and who is cooking the item.

Our first item will be a fish-dish. After all, it will come from a traditionally Bangla HNesel (Rannaghar or kitchen)…….

Changu Machher Gota Bhaja (Changu Full Fish Fry) :

Let me start with a story. This Changu  fish fry was made in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I had gone for a project assignment and stayed in a company guesthouse for a couple of weeks. The two story guesthouse had few other boarders and to my surprise a huge well-equipped kitchen. Entering the guesthouse I decided to cook my own food and keeping occasional scope for eating out….just to get some new taste of local delicacies.

The fish, Changu (Blue-green Snapper, Lethrinus nebulosus), is a regular catch from the Indian Ocean which is found frequently with other local varieties such as Red Snapper, Sardine, etc. to top them all. It is usually not available in Indian markets, but how does it matter? This fish is texture and taste-wise close to Tilapia or Khuranti (from Chilka Lagoon, Odisha, Chrysophrys sarba). So….you can prepare your dish with the latter fishes.

Freshly caught Changu (Image source: Google images)
Now, let us enter the kitchen.
  
Ingredients – 
Two Changu fishes, each weighing 500-600 g. 
One onion
Three cloves of garlic
One inch ginger
Two lemons
1 tsp white pepper powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
One or two 2 green chillies (if need a hotter taste). 
Any refined oil ¼ cup for frying fish.

(Note: This recipe serves four)

Processing fish – Clean the fishes removing scales, fins and flat part of the tail Make a slit from bottom till the mouth with a knife and remove all the stomach and gills. Make 3 to 4 not-so-deep slits on both sides of the fishes. Wash and pat dry with a kitchen towel.

Marinade – Grind onion, garlic, ginger and green chillies into a fine paste. Mix juice of lemon, turmeric powder, salt and white pepper powder with the paste and make a marinade. Apply the marinade all over the fish, inside the empty stomach and also into the slits on the sides. Rub the marinade nicely all over and keep it aside for an hour.

Cooking – Take a big non-stick frying pan, lit the oven and pour oil into the pan. Heat oil on high and place the fishes side-wise on the pan. After some time reduce the heat to medium. When one side is fried turn the fishes on the other side carefully. Keep turning as long as it is required to have the fishes fried as desired.    

Frying Changu on a non-stick pan
Serving – Take out the fried fishes on a serving plate and garnish with cut lemons and green chillies. Serve hot as starter or with hot boiled rice and lentil soup (Masoor dal) in Bangla style.



Tips – 
Sprinkle a little flour on the marinated fish and spread all over with hand. This helps the fish fry without the fat bursting out. I do it without flour but with caution.

This is the start off……many more recipes we loved cooking, will come in due course from our kitchen……..



About the Author:
Dr. Debasish Bhattacharya is a freelancer consulting Social Development Specialist, working in large-scale infrastructure development projects in India and abroad.
An Anthropologist turned Regional Planner Debasish is fond of several activities from writing travelogues to cooking, from sketching, painting to dress designing, embroidering to choreographing. Whenever he feels, in the early mornings or dead of nights, he sits with doing something creative that is so close to his heart.    
"Amader HNesel Theke" is a series of planned guest posts by him for this blog on his cooking adventures. We also look forward to reading posts about his extensive travels.