Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Kachki Maach er Charchari

Kechki Maach er Charchari | Small fish like Minnow or white bait cooked with potatoes and eggplant 

Kechki, Kachki or Kaski is a tiny, shimmering like silver fish that is very commonly found in freshwater ponds, streams and rivers of rural Bengal. They are really tiny, even smaller than the mourala fish.  These small fishes have such soft bones that they are cooked and eaten whole. Full of vitamins and nutrients they are very popular both in Bangladesh and West Bengal.

I think these fishes are farmed now days given that their popularity has soared high and export contributes a big chunk to this fishery business.. However when we lived in this small town by the river Ganga where the river swelled and rode high during the rainy season, the river water brimming with small fishes would spill into narrow streams and canals. This is where a variety of tiny fishes and small shrimps were caught by young kids with pieces of a woven cloth cloth called gamcha. Our house help's young boy often joined that crowd and brought back a lot of shrimp and chyala maach.

Here in the US, far from that small town, I get Kechki or Kaski, in Bangladeshi stores. All cleaned, they come in these small packets or trays in the freezer aisle along with a lot of other small and not-so-small fishes. 

The only time I buy and make this Kechki Charchari is when my mom is here. Surprisingly my mother never made anything with Kechki. Mourala was her limit when limit tended to tiny fish. But she loves all kinds of fish and so likes this Charchari.
The husband-man’s home is where all the tiny fish charcharis ruled. Though he is not fond of Rui Kaatla type of fish he likes the Kechki Charchari.
He thinks of his Dida and anxiously reminds me to pour mustard oil generously when I cook it. The last time you air fried the Kechki, the Charchari didn’t taste as good as Dida’s he says.
Of course it didn’t. Nothing tastes as good as nostalgia, glugs of mustard oil and what grandmothers madeπŸ™„.

When I poste this photo on FB earlier this week, I got several great recipe ideas. Sharing some for future use

Soupayan Sarkar We first marinate them with chopped onion, julienned potato, kalo jira, salt and turmeric. Then we quick blanch some large laupata. Then make a small potli of fish wrapped with the laupata. Then those potlis are quickly shallow fried. Tastes heavenly with rice.

Cynthia Nelson Here in the Caribbean we call it Nettley πŸ˜€ it is seasoned with a fresh herb paste that includes lots of hot pepper and some turmeric and fried crisp. It is usually eaten with dhal, rice and some type of fiery achar. Finger-licking good! πŸ˜„

Jayati N
Oh I love this variety.... aam kashundi chorchori....shorshe posto baati chorchori .....dhonepata.kancha.lonka.makha makha ..... tomato.roshun.poda.chatni.type.... pineapple.diye.tok.......narkolbata.shorshe.diye.kumropatay.paturi.... aloo.bodi.diye.patla.jhol.....

Shukla Biswas My girls love this fish, either kora Kore bhaja with daal or bati chochhori with sliced potatoes green chilies and onions,and of course a generous tablespoon of shorsher tel just before turning the stove off.

I made this Kechki Charchari for a bhaiphota lunch few weeks back. Isn't eating a variety of good food is the reason why we have so many festivals right?
I made mostly fish dishes for lunch that day. We started off with Moghlai Parota but then Muri Ghonto, Kechki Charchari, Ilish Bhaape -- was on the lunch menu. Though both my girls are not fond of fish, their "bhaiphota brothers" are true connoisseurs of good food and will happily eat fish. I had added some shrimp, to give the charchari some bite and also to make the charchari more familiar for them. 

Now I don't know how much the brothers liked it, but us, the parents of all the brothers and sisters gorged on the charchari. 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Mughlai Parota | Moglai Parota | Spicy Potato Curry -- a hack on Kolkata's favorite street food

Moglai Parota, Mughlai Paratha, Moghlai Parota

Mughlai Parota | Moglai Parota | Spicy Potato Curry

Mughlai Parota or Moglai Parota,  a very popular street food in Kolkata, is a  rectangular shaped flaky, crispy, fried bread with a filling of eggs, seasoned and cooked ground meat, onions and green chilies. It is served with a spicy potato curry (aloo r tarkari), slices of red onions and sometimes ketchup. The paratha dough is made with flour, water and oil but a good Moghlai paratha will have thin layers and a flaky texture due to rolling tricks unlike the regular parathas. Here, the husband-man has used a genius hack to make exactly those flaky, crispy layered paratha with minimum effort.  Read on.

Having lived most of my life in small towns far away from the cultural and food mecca of Bengal. Moglai parota for us was a rare treat. My maternal grandparents lived in North Kolkata and it was our annual "mama r bari" sojourn that promised all of these delicacies. From Flury's pastries to Kheer er Shingara, from egg rolls to aloor chop - the list was endless.

During one of our Kolkata holidays my mamas aka uncles asked if I wanted Moglai Parota for dinner. It was around the time that I had just been introduced to the Mughal empire courtesy of Amar Chitra Katha. As a child I was an avid reader and quick to draw up imaginary visuals in my age. So naturally given its  Mughal name, I conjured up a setting of scintillating chandeliers, silken tassels, brocade couches and ornate utensils and could not contain my excitement.

Imagine my situation when instead I was ushered in to a small restaurant with rickety wooden tables and chairs and curtained cubicles called cabins. I was crestfallen and suspicious of those swinging wooden doors of the cabins. I do not remember if it was Anadi Cabin but I was definitely crestfallen by the restaurant and suspicious of those swinging wooden doors of the cabins. That young couples with guilty and flushed faces entering or coming out of them did not help either! I guess I had all the qualities of a judgmental "Bong Mashima" even at that young age.😝

However all of that vanished when the Moglai Parotas and aloo r torakri was served and sheer joy ensued when I took a bite of that Moglai. Later we would also get Moglai parota from a trusted street side stall near my Mama r Bari. They would come wrapped in newsprint packets and perfume our evenings with their delicious, fried fragrance and taste.

The cabin restaurants dated back to the British Raj and the cabins were designed to give privacy to women and also young couples in a society which abhorred any PDA between young lovers. These restaurants, primarily in North Kolkata, were very popular with middle-class Bengalis until the late 80s.One of those restaurants, Anadi Cabin, a 94 year old establishment is what has made Moglai Parota a dish to salivate over and crave for most Bengalis.

Though it is believed that the Mughlai paratha originated during Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s reign (1569-1627) and it was a creation of his cook Adil Hafiz Usman, the Moglai Parota gained popularity among the common man as a street food. Most Bengalis, including me, have no idea about Jahangir but we all know that the best Moglai Parota always comes from, a street side stall, the one on wheels with an aluminum counter top and a kerosene stove raging fire or from one of the old North Kolkata restaurants.

Now since we do not get Moghlai Parota here, we tried many methods to recreate it. Since my rolling skills are pretty bad, we could never get the flaky and layered parota taste which is the USP for Kolkata Moghlai for us. The husband-man therefore came up with this brilliant idea of using Phyllo Dough sheets to make the parota or bread and it was a huge hit. He has been making it for a few years now but the only problem is he doesn't make it frequently :-(

Now what is Phyllo Dough ? Filo or phyllo is a very thin unleavened dough used for making pastries such as baklava and bΓΆrek in Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. We get packaged phyllo dough sheets, which are flaky, layered sheets of tissue-thin pastry dough. The husband-man used sheets of that to make the Moghlai Parota. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Bengali Ghugni | Instant Pot Ghugni Recipe

Bengali Ghugni | Ghugni in Instant Pot

Bengali Ghugni | Instant Pot (IP) Ghugni Recipe

Ghugni or Ghoognee is a very very popular snack in Bengal and in parts of Bihar and Orissa. It is made with dried white peas and cooked with myriad spices including Bhaja Masla. While the Northern India has its Chhole, Bengal has its Ghugni. An authentic Ghugni is made only with Motor or White Peas(sold as White or Yellow Vatana in Indian grocery stores), not chickpeas. Garnished with onion, green chilies, and the very Bengali addition of coconut, it is a mouthwatering snack.
My original recipe of Ghugni was posted several year ago following Somnath's directions. I have made Ghugni in Instant Pot using the same recipe. The Instant Pot version is easier and little quicker.

Two amazing things happened this weekend!

1. My IP did not scream Burn on me. It did not give up on me. I successfully made Ghugni in my IP. This has been my life long dream. To make Ghugni in IP as my Pressure cooker is not large enough for a week's worth of Ghugni. Small victories in a big gadget filled world.

2. I went to my first every stand-up comedy show. Given that I have a special fondness for all things funny and eagerly watch the stand-up comedy shows on Netflix , it is surprising that I had never been to a live one. So when we heard Vir Das is in town,  a bunch of us eagerly got our tickets for his show.  And it was truly an amazing experience. 

I have loved his  shows on Netflix but being right there in the audience, just 6 rows away from the stage, in a theater throbbing with energy and laughter was something else! HILARIOUS.