Chyanchra is something only a true bong can relate to, and I am no exception. I am sure this dish was invented by some clever cook of old bengali households where nothing gets wasted in the kitchen, be it the vegetable peel or last and lonely piece of veggies sitting on the tray, or some left over greens. There are also those not so popular fish parts like fish heads and bones from which the flesh has been extracted to make something delicious. So what that intelligent cook has done is mixed all these with remaining masalas or whatever he or she has access to and made a medley of flavours known as chyanchra. After their domestic core, the ladies of bengali household use to have their lunch with this. This dish is full of vitamins too so may be that is how they survived after pouring all the good and best part of food items to the plates of their near and dear ones.
Back to today’s kitchen, whenever I buy bhetki from the market and ask my fish monger to make fillet out of it, I make sure to take back the head and bones. Why? Because it turns out to be a delicious chyanchra and we can have a full plate of rice with only this.
- Fish head and bones – 500 gms
- Malabar spinach – a bowl
- Potato – 1, peeled and cubed
- Pumpkin – a segment – peeled and cubed
- Panchforon – a tsp
- Onion – 1, chopped
- Garlic – 4-5 cloves -, chopped
- Ginger paste – 1 heaped tbsp
- Cumin powder, salt, turmeric, red chilli powder – as required
- Sugar – a pinch, optional, but it balances the flavour
- Green chilli – 4, slitted
- Mustard oil
Fry the fish heads and bones with some salt and turmeric and keep aside.
In the same pan, add some more oil. Then add the panchforon and slitted green chilli and fry.
Next goes chopped garic and after 30 seconds add chopped onion.
Once the onion starts changing colors, add the ginger paste. Fry well.
Next goes all the powdered masalas soaked in half cup of water.
Fry till oil starts coming out and then add the cubed potato and pumpkin. Saute well.
After 3-4 minutes, add chopped malabar spinach and mix. It will release lot of water. And reduce in volume.
Then add the fried fish parts and give it a good stir. Keep covered and cook over low heat. Vegetables should get cooked in its own water.
When the vegetables are well cooked and water reduced to minimum, you are done. Check the seasoning.
Add the sugar if using and give it 10 minutes of standing time.
Serve with plain rice.