Spice up the monsoon

Spice up the monsoon

I enjoy cooking although I have not done any culinary course. It was the pleasure of seeing and feeling the ingredients that ignited this passion in me. My mother always allowed me to touch and feel the ingredients whenever she used to cook. She made me understand why there was a process, why it was necessary for oil to be spiced before other ingredients go in, the importance of marination etc. My father also helped me develop my skills.

I feel cooking is the most superior form of art. It caters to all the five senses. I learnt much of my cooking online. Inspiring chefs, their fabulous recipes and quick hacks — what a learning it has been and continues to be. My visit to The Netherlands and Belgium made me understand the emotion that European cuisine carries. I also fell in love with stir-fry in Singapore. The biggest challenge I face is sourcing ingredients for international recipes locally. Proper research and experimentation helps me find the right flavour for the dishes I want to cook. However, now specific ‘international aisles’ have made things easier. I love Italian cuisine too.

Bengali cuisine is something that has the influence of Colonial culture. There is both royal selections as well as farm influences. I hail from Kolkata and a typical Bengali needs to have fish in every meal; otherwise there is a feeling that the meal is incomplete. ‘Baked fishing poppy seed gravy’ is a common preparation in Kolkata especially during monsoon and steamed fish is a very popular Bengali side-dish. Normally this ‘bhapa mach’ is made with Ilish /Hilsha or ‘Bhetki’ (sea perch). However, here I have made a fusion dish with Basa, which is more widely available in land-locked areas, in steamed style using a microwave with mustard poppy seed coconut paste gravy. Generally, it is made in a pressure cooker, but this method is a time-saver.

The dish I recommend here is extremely easy to make. It is also easy to source the ingredients and boasts of great flavours.

Abhimanyu Bose
(Chief Marketing Officer,Bosetechnics)

Recipe

Bhapa Shorshe Mach or Baked fish in poppy seed gravy

Ingredients
*Basa fillets boneless skinless - 8 pieces
*Mustard oil - 4 tbsp
* Black poppy seeds - 4 tbsp
*White mustard seed - 4 tbsp (to equalise the strength of black poppy seeds)
*Grated coconut - 1 cup
(optional)
*Sour curd - 1/2 cup
*Green chilli - 6
*Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
* Kashmiri red chilli - 1/2 tsp
*Salt - As per taste
*Water - 1/2 cup

Method
Cut the fish into 4”/3” pieces, marinate with some salt and turmeric, and keep aside while making the spice mix. Now make a smooth paste with mustard seed, poppy seed, and four green chillies, salt, some water, grated coconut, turmeric powder and curd into the paste and mix well. Now place the marinated fish in an ovenproof baking dish, pour the mixture paste on top, and coat the fish pieces evenly. Pour mustard oil on the marinated fish, place some slit green chillies on it, cover with a microwave safe lid, and place the dish into the oven.

On medium microwave power, bake for four minutes. Keep a watch once half way.
After four minutes turn off  the oven and remove the baking dish from the oven but do not open it immediately. After 10 minutes, open it and serve it with steamed rice. Voila!


Serving tips: To make this dish more spicy and rich, you can add one tablespoon mustard oil on it. You can replace salmon with fresh ‘Hilsa’ or prawn.

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