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 made🙄.

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 😀 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! 😄

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. 

Kechki Maach er Charchari | Tiny Freshwater Fish with Potatoes and Eggplant

Kechki fish - 1 lb
Potato - 1 large
Eggplant - 1 long-ish eggplant

1 medium onion finely chopped

5-6 green chilies chopped fine
8-10 cloves of garlic minced
A fistful of chopped coriander leaves (Cilantro)

1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Red chili powder
1 tsp Cumin powder
1 tsp. sugar
Salt to taste
1/4 C Mustard oil


Kechki Maach -- 1 lb of fresh, silvery, tiny fish 
Since I buy the fish frozen, I have to make sure the fish is defrosted before I do anything with it. Then I Wash the fish and drain the water. Add turmeric powder and salt to it and marinate for 15 minutes.

Shrimp - small shrimp 6-8. Toss in turmeric powder and salt

Chop 1 medium potato in half moon pieces.

Chop a medium onion in fine half moon slices

Chop 1 slender japanese eggplant in 2" lengths

Mince 8 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. Now add some more oil. Fry the fish  in batches until they are a crisp golden brown. Remove fried fish and keep aside.

In the same oil, add the shrimp. Fry until cooked. Remove and keep aside

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
minced garlic
slit green chillies

When you get the flavor of garlic 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 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch(more red chilli powder if you like it hotter)
1 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.

Add chopped coriander leaves and mix once again before you serve.
Serve hot with rice.

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