Recently while hopping through profiles of my niece's classmates, I came across an album of a boy studying in class XI in one of the most reputed schools of India. Apparently he posted pics of his Shantiniketan visit with captions and comments, some made by his own younger brother that were so revolting in nature that ignoring them as juvenile vagary would be unfair to the person, who was the butt of their ridicule, Rabindranath Tagore. Growing up in a cultural city like Kolkata, I have seen people making fun of legendary figures but none was ever so derogatory and offensive to the core. The comments made at the expense of Rabi Thakur were essentially very insulting in tone, something that would make anyone who has grown up listening to the songs and reading the poems of Rabindranath Tagore fly into rage.
As appeared in the pictures, the boys went to Shantiniketan with their parents who seemed pretty decent and well-stationed in life, well, has to be because affording the regular fees of that expensive school is not everyone's cup of tea. But evidently the parents failed miserably in one thing that is instilling in their wards a little bit of value and respect for the culture that is rooted in Shantiniketan.
Turning to the recipe, Bata Macher Jhal is another astounding preparation involving bata fish, after Aam Doi Bata which my mother cooks amazingly. The simple tomato based gravy infused with the nice fragrance of coriander leaves is a healthy concoction befitting to be had almost every day. It is an ideal curry for those days when we feel like having something tasty, yet light on stomach and quick in preparation, the best part of this dish requiring miniscule precooking arrangement.
Ingredients: Cooking time: 35 minutes
ü 6-8 Bata fishes
ü 4-5 green chillies (chopped)
ü 3 tomatoes (pureed)
ü 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
ü 1 tsp turmeric powder
ü 1 tsp cumin powder
ü 1 tsp coriander powder
ü 1 tsp kashmiri red mirch
ü Salt to taste
ü Mustard oil for cooking
ü Coriander leaves (for garnishing)
ü 2 green chillies (for sauté)
1) Heat mustard oil in a wok. Coat the fishes in a pinch of turmeric powder and salt. Fry them till brown in color, keeping the flame between moderate to high, alternately, so as to keep the oil usable for cooking the curry.
2) Once fishes are fried, take them off the heat and keep aside.
3) Into the same oil add 2 green chillies and let them change color a bit. Add tomato puree, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and salt. Sauté for 8-10 minutes.
4) Measure out 1 cup water into the wok, add chopped green chillies and bring the gravy to a boil.
5) Toss in the fried fishes and simmer away for 2 minutes.
6) Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with steaming rice.