I have this Bengali cook book “Amish o Niramish Ahaar” written by Pragyasundari Devi, who was the family member of Rabindranath Tagore. If I am not mistaken, she was one of the niece of the great poet and probably this is the first cookbook written in Bengali. I have two volumes of it, one for the vegetarian feast and the other is for Non Veg and sweets. These two books are a treasure of old Bengali delicacies, and whenever I am in doubt, I refer to it. It contains not only the traditional Bengali dishes, but some unconventional food items as well, like how to cook rabbit, deer, how to clean a pigeon or peacock etc. So last week, when I got a big Shol fish in the market, I came home and open this book. The recipe that caught my fancy is this ‘Shol Machh PoRa’, which to some extent, resembles the process of Bar-B-Q of fish wrapped in banana leaf after marination with bit of masalas. Bar-B-Qued fish is then mashed with some masalas again, and enjoyed with plain rice. I have modified the recipe for the ‘PoRa’ part, and added masalas whatever is available but tried to follow the process as much as possible and the end result was really awesome.
- Shol Fish – 4 fillets
- Green Chilli – 2-3
- Mustard Oil – 3 tbsp
- Mustard Powder – 2 tsp, soaked
- Salt, turmeric powder
- Onion – 1, thinly sliced
- Garlic Paste – 1 tsp
- Poppy Seed Paste – 1 tsp
- Coriander leaves – chopped
- Lemon slice – 1
Marinate the clean fish pieces with salt, turmeric, mustard paste, 1 tbsp of mustard oil, half chopped onion, garlic paste, green chilli paste and poppy seed paste.
Now, the ‘PoRa’ or Bar-B-Q part. If you can manage a banana leaf, nothing like it. I could not, so I have done it with aluminium foil. Put the fish along with marination in a large Aluminium sheet and carefully fold to make a tight packet.
Heat a pan and place the packet onto the pan. Lower the heat and let it get cooked for 15 – 20 minutes. Turn once or twice to get a even cooking.
Remove from heat and carefully prick the foil with a fork to release the steam formed inside. Remove the fish with masalas from the foil and place it in a bowl.
Remove the bones and place in the bowl. Discard the bones.
Mash the cooked fish with masalas along with the remaining chopped onions and mustard oil. Add chopped coriander leaves and squeeze a lemon slice at the end. Adjust the salt, if required.
Serve with plain rice.