When we went for Telengana food festival which was a great show at ITC Sonar and Chef Shankara had taken so much interest in explaining to us the nuances of the cuisine, Madhushree got inspired to cook Karjyam Vepudu and she cooked mutton liver masala fry. I love mutton liver and used to have it in another form a lot in Park Street as a starter with my Boss at that point of time. Served in a small Stainless Steel bowls with tooth picks, both the time and friendships then were uninhibited.
We had the opportunity to experience Karavalli festival at Sonargaon Taj Bengal and it definitely left a long lasting impression in our minds. Chef Naren Thimmaiah’s food philosophy, his care towards the food, the practical approach and how success can still keep you humble had been etched in our minds forever. We had some wonderful dishes and that acted as an inspiration for Madhushree’s recent adventures in the kitchen. Kurry patta and coconut milk has suddenly become a staple. She has been cooking this particular recipe for many years now, but somehow it never felt the same like now. Malabar Fish curry.
While having this on a sunday for lunch, I kept on torturing myself over the thought whether this can be a replacement for a Sunday Machher jhol? Both the dishes have the main character in common – which is Fish While in Eastern part of the country we may use Rohu and Katla and the fresh water fishes, West and South primarily seee the use of Surmai or King fish, Pomfret, Bangra and other sea fishes.The huge difference lies in the method of cooking where grated coconut and coconut milk is used in a Malabar fish curry; where as our Macher jhol is more viscous and the rice on a Sunday afternoon get drenched in the jhol (or the curry as we call it). Only dish which can comes closer to this is perhaps chingi macher malaikari. However, other than the similarity of using coconut milk as the base of the curry, the stark difference is that Malaikari does not use any souring agent but all South Indian curries have a use of some souring agent in the form of tamarind, kokum, tomatoes or something else. The one which we made had a slightly thicker gravy but definitely to be had with rice and as a Bong, the tanginess due to the souring agent will be something which many Bengalis may not relate to a Sunday feast.
Cannot help but quote noted Bengali cookbook author and food writer Ms.Chitrita Banerjee on Machher Jhol. The machher Jhol or the fish stew is the cenrtre piece of bengali meal almost throughout the year. Its a thin stew, usually of fish, though it can be purely vegetarian. Though several different ground spices are used in cooking jhol, a good one’s most important quality is its lightness. Too heavy a hand with the spices will ruin it. At the same time, bad cooks can also produce watery, tasteless pallid jhols.
So much so for jhol. In case you are here with me till now, then lets enjoy the Malabar fish curry for this Sunday perhaps?
This is Malabar fish curry with coconut milk and in case you know the recipe of Malabar fish curry without coconut which you have tried then let us know.
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