Jhaal in Bengali means hot. Not warm hot. Not "pink hot". But spicy hot.
But "jhaal" when in the name of a dish describes a gravy based dish (should have said curry, but don't want to add to curry culture) usually with mustard sauce that is thicker than a soupy "jhol" but not as rich as a "dalna". Confoosed ? Confused ? Okay forget it.
Jhaal and hot brings to my mind a very funny incident. I know a little girl, a neighborhood friend of my daughter who watches a little too much of Disney Channel. Well probably a lot of Disney Channel. If you are not a parent or do not subscribe to cable, both good choice, you are probably at a loss here. "Disney" you think is all cutesy innocence, magic kingdoms and animated characters. Well, welcome to the Disney Channel on cable and spend some hours in the evening watching the shows they offer, and then come back and read this post. It is better for young kids to watch back to back DDLJ than watch iCarly .
So any way this kid who watched a little too much of the channel, one day comes to my home in a new dress and tells me ," BM auntie, you know I am hot".
Being genuinely worried, I touched her forehead and said, "Do you have a fever ? your forehead is cool. You are not sweating either".
Balking at my ignorance, she exasperatedly said "No. Not that hot. Hot -- like in hot pink".
By now I had a grasp of what she had in mind, but knowing her for a long time and her obsession with the channel which probably led her to this imaginary self-obsession, I tried to play it down.
"Actually Hot in English language has only one meaning -- having a high temperature. And in some cases we use it for food which is very spicy. Never have I heard that being used to describe a person," I said, acting innocent.
Seeing that this was going nowhere and probably thinking of me as some bummer from an Indian village, she gave up on me. She also stopped all her preening and twirling and got down to more earthly business. "Can I have an oreo cookie ? Or two ?" she tried to negotiate.
"You can", I said. "But don't you say you are hot unless running a fever or feeling warm. You need to be older to understand different meanings of a word and only then use it".
Don't know if it had any effect on her but she is a good and smart child and I hope the self-obsession was momentary.
What do you do when faced with kids saying "grownup words" or acting "much older than their age" ? Do you give a stern scolding ? Do you sit them down and give them a lecture ? What do you do ?
Back to the food, this shorshe salmon is a quick dinner option on a weekday. All you need to make is the mustard paste. And then the best thing is, you make it different from the regular mustard paste. The way I do it, I make the mustard paste with mustard seeds, poppy seeds, green chillies, tomato and garlic, flavors which go very well with the stronger taste of salmon. If you don't want to do the jhaal, you use the paste as a marinade and bake the salmon instead.
Else you make the Shorshe Tomato Salmon Jhaal.
Shorshe Tomato Salmon Jhaal
1 tbsp Mustard seeds
1/2 tbsp Poppy seeds
in a tbsp water for 30 mins
Make a paste of
the mustard + poppy seeds
2 fat clove of garlic
1 small tomato
2 green chilli
salt to taste
with a splash of water
Heat 1 tbsp Mustard oil to smoking
Temper the hot oil with
1/4 tsp kalojeere(kalonji) and
4 slit green chilli.
Add the fish pieces and lightly fry till the fish loses its raw coloring.
Next add the mustard paste you made. Lower the heat and mix with the fish till fish is a pale golden color. Do not over fry fish or crisp it. Add warm water enough for gravy, salt to taste, cover the pan and let the gravy simmer.
The gravy should be on the thicker side and clinging to the fish. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.