I was a good student in school.By good, I mean that not only was I bright in studies, but disciplined and well-mannered too. Since the last two lines of this post have already thrown all my modesty in air, let me also say that I feel that I was good because I was really hardworking and believed in healthy competition with the other students.
I had a real good friend who used to beat me in the class ranks every time by one level.Without fail, he used to get one rank ahead of me in every test or exam in the class.A week before every exam were to begin, he used to tell me “Tanvi, You ll beat me this time in the scores, coz I am not prepared enough.” Followed by this he used to tell me “You may not get such a chance again when I am unprepared, so make the most of it!”And everytime I used to be sooo irritated by his words and I used to tell him that I don’t want him to stoop down for me and that he should give me fierce competition. The result was the same everytime-prepared or un prepared, he ranked first and me second and never vice versa! Today, when I think about him, I can so very clearly justify the fact that he had a very aciculate mind and I was more of a
assiduous hardworking types
We were very good friends, we used to share the same bench in class and ate lunch together too.Once he
told fooled me saying that he is so brilliant because his mom used to give him two raw eggs in a glass full of milk every morning coz it strengthens the brain. That day, I came back from school and told my mom that from now on I wanna eat raw eggs in the morning too.When she came to know the reason behind such devious demand from me, she had a hearty laugh. Additionally, she told me that if I eat nuts and fish, which have good oils , then not only will I have strong and sharp brain but my skin will glow & hair will be shiny…her words fell on ears of a teenage girl like raindrops falling on barren land.
Now, Indian parents have one very typical habit amongst many..they just need to know what their children like or do not like in food …and in both cases they will feed the kids until they puke! They will overprepare the foods you like and will stuff you with those until you start disliking them..and for the ones you don’t like, they will nag you to death to eat them till your dislike turns into hatred.My mom’s nutty & fishy trick worked wonders for her and disasters for me…She made me eat a handful of nuts daily & fish at least twice a week each time telling me how I ll beat my friend’s scores in class and will become beautiful too at the same time…and me.. ..a fool kid..thinking to excel in class ate all those otherwise torturous foods as if I were being fed ice cream :)
When I think of those few years when I was manipulated by my mom, I still taunt her.But whatsoever, she succeeded in her endeavours and eventually developing a taste of both of these foods in me..coz nuts & seafood form one of my favorite foods as of today.Fish is my most favourite non vegetarian item and I can’t have my day without handful of almonds & walnuts!
Okay now for the recipe,it’s one of the easiest east indian fish preparations consisting of smearing the fish with mustard paste and steaming it in a banana leaf.I used aluminium foil though because I cud not find banana leaf in here.The authentic preparation is with a kind of tropical fish called ‘Hilsa/Ilish‘, however any type of fish can be used.The key to authentic taste is the use of fresh ground mustard seeds and use of raw mustard oil.The pungency of mustard combined with flesh of the fish lends a divine taste.
I was intrigued when I saw my MIL using both lemon juice and yogurt for the paste,she said reason being, rubbing lemon juice cures the fish slightly and yogurt takes care of the pungency of mustard.Normally, this dish is best enjoyed with rice however you can throw in some other veggies of your choice too in the steamer and have it on its own..totally up to you.I like to dry grind my mustard seeds first and then mix with water coz I believe I am able to control the texture better that way.Below goes my take on the recipe:
- Hilsa/Ilish/Any fish of your choice -4 pieces [preferably the belly cut]
- 2 tbsp brown mustard seeds
- 2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tsp white poppy seeds [khus-khus/posto]
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp red chilli powder [adjust to taste]
- 2 tsp green chilli paste
- 3 tbsp thick plain yogurt
- 1 tbsp coconut cream
- 2 tbsp raw mustard oil
- Salt to taste
- Wash the fish pieces and pat them completely dry.Using a fork, poke the pieces on both sides,rub with lemon juice,turmeric and 1 tsp salt and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, using a coffee grinder, dry grind both the mustard seeds and poppy seeds into a coarse powder.
- In a small bowl, mix in the powdered mustard, poppy seeds, yogurt, green chilli paste, coconut cream, red chilli powder, salt to taste and combine well.Add water if required to make a thick paste.
- Smear the fish pieces with this mustard paste.Save the remaining paste.
- On a big sheet of aluminium foil, arrange the mustard smeared fish pieces.Do not stack them over one another.Once arranged, drizzle with the mustard oil and remaining mustard paste [in any] and fold over the aluminium foil to make a small parcel.
- In a steamer, steam the parcels for about 10-15 minutes or until the fish is tender.
- Remove from steamer and let rest for 5-8 minutes to cool down.Do not discard the liquid/juices in the parcels,that forms a terrific sauce/gravy.
- Serve with warm steamed rice.
Sending this to Hearth n Soul Vol 23