I wish onion juice just like ginger and garlic paste could be available readymade in the market . A lot of time spent into extracting the juice from onion would have been saved to use otherwise. That brings in mind the era of our mother and grandmothers who in the absence of readymade spice powder used to grind spices painstakingly at home, manually, on a grinding stone which still is very much in use across Kolkata in traditional households. Now what is a grinding stone or popularly called in Bengal as shil nora, one not familiar with Bengali way of cooking might enquire. It is a pocked stone slab used for grinding an array of essential cooking items - ginger, garlic, onion, cumin, coriander and the like into paste. I have seen my mother grinding poppy seeds rolling the mortar back and forth on the shil nora, with her forehead covered with beads of sweat, while she paused every now and then rearranging the paste with the tip of her fingers to repeat the grinding process until poppy seeds were crushed into a wet pulp. Without the aid of modern day gadgets, cooking was definitely not a simple affair but still our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers smilingly managed cooking a wholesome fare comprising 10-15 dishes for all the members of huge joint families. Cooking on such large scale, every day, is simply out of our imagination now.
My mother always criticizes our generation of women being so impatient with everything seeking immediate outputs on every effort and in pursuit of career and dreams putting the most important things of life on the backburner like family and relationships. I cannot quite disagree with her thought. It's true that women of our generation don't have patience coming close to that of our mother's generation who sacrificed every small desire for the sake of families with an ever-present smile and selflessness that has become a rarity now. However, it's equally true our ways of life are far more complicated than theirs and we cannot be blamed for the complication entirely because with the technological evolution and economic progress, the world dynamics are thrown into a whole new level completely different from that of our earlier generation. There are many aspects of life we now deal with that our mothers had never come face to face with. For example, there was a time when people with moderate earnings could build a house for themselves in the heart of Kolkata, however humble the structure may be, but in today's time erecting your own house in a plot purchased by you is almost unthinkable. With the population explosion and high inflation rate it has become a necessity for us to become more serious about our career and growth and contribute to family income, just to live well.
I believe our mothers were lucky in a way that they were born at a time when life was simple. Although all of us crave for simplicity in life, with the fast changing world simplicity and complete mental peace are two things elusive to many.
Rohu Fish Korma is a very interesting recipe. Usually, Bengalis deep fry most of the fishes before making gravy with them, only exception being is Hilsa which is not deep fried to keep its juicy flavour intact. On the other hand, I have seen a lot of fish eating people hailing from places like Chennai, Kerala not deep frying fishes while cooking them. I think deep frying fishes before making gravy is a practice unique to Bengal. This is my first of such attempt at cooking rohu curry without deep frying the fishes. I must tell you the turnout was awesome. My finicky husband doubtful of how the taste would turn out while I was cooking it also ended up passing compliments on the end result. One thing you must be careful of is to show little generosity towards the amount of oil you use.
Ingredients: Cooking time: 10 minutes
ü 8 pieces of Rohu fish
ü 1 cup of coconut milk (240 ml)
ü Juice extracted from 2 medium size onions
ü 1 tsp ginger paste
ü 2 tbsp of raisins (ground into paste)
ü 2 heaped tbsp of yogurt, beaten
ü 1 tsp cumin seeds (ground into paste)
ü 1 tsp turmeric powder
ü 1 tsp dry red chilli powder
ü Salt to taste
ü 2 tsp sugar
ü 1 tsp roasted garam masala powder
ü Mustard oil for cooking
ü 1 tsp ghee (optional)
ü Green chillies (for garnishing)
ü 1 bay leaf
ü 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1) Wash the fish pieces repeatedly under water. Pat them dry. Then marinate with turmeric powder, dry red chilli powder, onion juice, ginger paste, cumin paste, yogurt, raisin paste, salt and sugar. Refrigerate for half an hour.
2) Heat oil about 1/2 cup in a wok. When oil turns smoking hot, add bay leaf and cumin seeds. Allow them to crackle.
3) Add the fishes and cook them on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, turning sides often and then pour the marinade in scraping the bowl clean. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
4) Add coconut milk and bring the gravy to a boil. Sprinkle garam masala powder and add ghee, if using. Stir in gently to mix.
5) Garnish with green chillies and serve hot with rice or pulao.