I often say that I am not my Mother. The truth is, I can never become my Mother. It is hard. Believe me!
Everytime we have a phone call, this is how the conversation goes
"Cha er saathe biskut kheyechis? Khali pete cha khas na. Shob jaigay bolche kintu brekfast ta heavy korte" (Did you have tea with your biscuit? Don't go empty stomach in the morning. It is important to have breakfast.)
Me - Huun
"Aaj lunch e bachcha der ki dili? Abar Pasta?" (What did you pack for the girls' lunch? Pasta gain?)
"Dinner e ki kheli?" (What did you have for dinner?)
bhaat, dal, chicken er jhol
"Abar toder sei brown rice ? Sada bhaat koris ni? Ektu gobindibhog chaal er bhaat korte paris to meye gulor jonyo. Ar sobji?" (Again that tasteless brown rice ? Why can't you make some gobindobhog? And no vegetable dish?)
After the food part is dealt with and she has finally resigned her granddaughters fate in the hands of their worthless mother, do we go into other discussions.
I cannot say for sure what will happen in 20 years but I don't know if like my Ma, I will be so single-mindedly concerned about my daughters' meal habits. Or maybe I will. Many of my friend's say, their conversation with their Mothers go more or less the same way, so I shall never know until I am at that stage.
|My Ma -- The Super Bong Mom|
During the husband-man's last India trip, however my Ma outdid herself. The husband-man was visiting my home for only one day during his trip. In span of that single day, he was fed all sorts of Bengali delicacies from Kochuri to maacher chop to Tyangra maacher jhaal cooked at home. And then since, the husband-man likes eating outside, he was treated to dinner at 6 Ballygunge Place. Satiated and happy, the guy slept happily through the night, up early next morning to catch his flight back home.
It was on this morning, when he was putting away the last of his stuff in the suitcase, that my Mother gave him a box. A small rectangular plastic box, akin to those flat rectangular tiffin boxes we used to take to school. The box was wrapped in several layer of clear plastic wrap and was secured tightly with two rubber-bands, black and red, cris-crossed.
"Put this in the suitcase, but keep it away from your good clothes," my Mother told him nonchalantly.
The husband-man was not as non-chalant as his mother-in-law though. All the karapak er sondesh and Mukhorochak chanachur had already been secured in a safe place in his luggage. So, what was this mysterious box that he was supposed to take?
True to all airline safety regulations the H-man refused to take in an unknown package without clear knowledge of what it carried!
My Ma, ho-hummed and finally admitted that that box contained fried Mourala Maach!!!
She then dealt her sentimental card -- "You don't get fresh mourala there. You and BM like mourala maacher charchari. Kotodin khaoni. This is fried crisp and BM can make the charchari with it easily. I have packed it so well that no one will even get a whiff."
The husband-man was stunned to say the least. In spite of the sentiments he wasn't even sure if it was ok to carry it.
Then my Ma dealt her logical reasoning card. And her logic was so solid that it could not be disputed either. She convinced the H-man, that she often carries small snacks like parota-tarkari on long flights for her own consumption, so why not this ? What if a traveler desires to eat fried Mourala Maach at a height of 40,000ft in air ? Personal consumption is a very personal choice after all.
The mourala maach fried crisp flew all the way from Kolkata to our home and in spite of delayed flights, missed connections and all sorts of adventure, it stayed just that way. Crisp and fresh. All I had to do was saute it once more in hot oil and make a charchari!!! The recipe of the charchari, as you must have assumed is also from Kolkata, and was delivered much easily by Ma over the phone.
Steeped in maternal love, this was the best Mourala maacher charchari we have had in a long long time.
Mourala Maach -- 1 lb of fresh, silvery, tiny Mourala(a small fish like sardine) sprinkled with lots of love
Chop 1 medium potato in half moon pieces.
Chop half of a medium onion in fine half moon slices
Chop 1 slender japanese eggplant in 2" lengths
Mince 2 cloves of garlic
Slit 5-6 green chilies along the center
How To Do It
Heat enough oil for frying the fish. Mustard Oil is the best bet. I used a frying pan with a bigger surface area as I was going to fry several batches of fish.
The oil should be smoking hot but not burning. Check by tossing a small piece of onion in the oil. It should rise up to the surface and sizzle.
Sprinkle some turmeric powder on surface of the oil. I have a theory that this reduces the risk of oil splattering a bit. And I also have a splatter screen handy to save me from any hot oil playing truant. Ta-Da!
Gently slide in the tiny fish in the hot oil and fry until crisp.
Now all that oil for frying will not be needed in the dish. So save that oil for future use or get rid of it Save 3-4 tbsp oil that will be needed for the charchari.
In the same frying pan, heat 3-4 tbsp Mustard oil
Next add the eggplant slices. Sprinkle some turmeric powder, little salt and saute the eggplants until their skin chars a little and the eggplant becomes a tad softer. They need not be fully cooked at this point. Remove the eggplant and keep aside.
Temper the oil in the frying pan with
1 tsp of Kalonji (or Paanchphoron)
5 slit green chillies
When the spices pop add the minced garlic. After a quick saute add the onion
Saute the onion for 3-4 minutes until it softens. Onion will soften but not get crispy.
Next add the potato slices, sprinkle some more turmeric powder and saute for 3-4 minutes. Cover the frying pan and let the potatoes cook. Intermittently remove cover and stir around the vegetables and sprinkle water if they tend to stick to the frying pan.
When potato is almost done, take a small bowl and to it add
1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
1/2 tsp Kashmiri mirch(more red chilli powder if you like it hotter)
1/2 tsp of Cumin powder
and little water to make a watery paste
Add this masala paste to the frying pan. Add the fried eggplant and toss the potatoes and eggplants around for a couple of minutes. Next add a splash of water. Add sugar and salt to taste. Cover and let the potatoes and eggplants cook.
Once the vegetables are done, add the fried fish and toss. Cook for a few more minutes. Few drops of Mustard oil towards the end adds a punch to the dish.
Serve hot with rice.
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