Sacrificing my bhatghoom (banglacised term for a power nap) after a Sunday lunch is very rare. Even though a power nap can never cover what a Bhatghoom can offer, sacrificing the same to write a post is more rare, rather quite extinct in my exisitence. But then I remembered a line and I decided what to write. What do you do when you get too emotional? Do you hold yourself back? Do you express the emotions? Can emotions be rememebred?
Arnab Ray, aka GreatBong, in his murder thriller Mahabhatarata murders makes the protagonist, the inspector Rukshana Ahmed, say this from a grotesque murder scene
“It takes blood to grease my memory tubes now. Otherwise only gunk comes out”
Let me say – “It takes mustard and mustard oil in plenty to grease my emotion tubes now”
The Tel Koi was a killer of a dish. Remember it is strictly for adults. The colour, texture, the main protagonist, all are to be explored under parental guidance. It’s oil floating and generous amount. The colour is an adventurous mix of turmeric and red chili powder. The texture is not completely smooth and add on to that the mustard flavour. The gravy is thick and you can almost scoop out the masalas. It’s like a painting when you add the gravy on a bed of hot white rice with fumes coming out. The Koi we used in Tel Koi was a hybrid Koi, otherwise there are more bones in the fish and I am not particularly fond of the fish. Mustard and mustard oil is my favourite and when added to any dish, I feel home, I feel emotional. Cannot help it. As I reel, the flavours and this beautiful Sunday lunch, I think I need a bhatghoom. Please excuse me. Yes, at times I speak more than Kosha Mangsho and I get emotional too.
Tel Koi - recipe
A rich gravy, priamarily made with the use of minimal spices and mostly mustard oil is what defines the dish. For Koi mach, which I believe is also known as climbing perch, this is a typical gravy made in most Bengali households. Every house also has different variations and the one common factor is the ratio of oil to water is much higher. This is my grandmother's recipe which I have learnt from my mother.
Recipe Author: Madhushree
Marinate the fish in 1/2 a tsp of turmeric powder and little bit of salt and keep aside.
In a frying pan, take 2 tbsp of mustard oil. When the oil is hot, lightly fry the fishes. Frying koi mach is a bit tricky. Koi mach is always bought live and sometimes while frying, the fish (even though dead), jumps out of the pan. So, while frying, make sure to keep the lid on.
Make a paste of red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, 1 tsp of turmeric powder, mustard paste, tomato paste, ginger paste, 2 tbsp of mustard oil and some salt.
Tomato paste is something which can be used as per your taste. I use the tomato paste since it gives an additional red colour and makes the gravy quite rich. My grandmother never used tomato paste.
Once the fish has been fried, use a slotted spoon to take them out of the frying pan and keep them aside.
In the same frying pan, add 3 more tbsp of mustard oil. When it becomes hot again, add the masala paste. Initially keep the heat on high and fry the masala for a couple of minutes. Then lower the heat and cook the masalas till the raw smell goes off and oil releases from the sides.
Add the fish and coat them with the masalas. Keep the heat low so that nothing burns.
Add a cup of water and then increase the heat and let it simmer.
Add some split green chillies. And finally drizzle some more mustard oil. Be generous with the mustard oil. Check the seasoning and add more salt if required.
The recipe is called tel koi (tel meaning oil) , hence there is more oil than water.
Serve it with some steaming rice.