Debjani’s FB status is showing that she is in Pondicherry so what the hell she is doing while in Pondicherry; isn’t she having some amazing southern food; hadn’t she gone to visit the Aurivindo Ashram… Well she reached pondi today for an official meet and started writing about her over the top homely dinner that she prepared day before yesterday which started with Bhetki Maacher Aloo Phulkopi diye Kalia and ended on a spoonful (3 spoon actually) of rice. “Are you crazy Debjani? Why the hell are you in room and writing a blog-post again while you are in a beautiful place?” …. No I am not crazy! I am done with the day’s official core; I am done with the phone call with my daughter and discussing “angbangchang” with her and I am done with little bit sightseeing too and I found this beautiful resort’s bed perfect to seat and write about the truly homely light fish curry prepared with potatoes and cauliflower florets. This is what I cooked for us before leaving for the office trip and both mother daughters enjoyed every bit of it and father was elaborated in detail over phone as always.
Bhetki Maacher Aloo Phulkopi diye Kalia or light fish curry with Potatoes and cauliflower is an amazing treat that we had/have every winter. Though both Bhetki maach and Cauliflower available all through the year but having it with hot steamed rice in a wintery lunch/ dinner adds some unique flavour to it; each time; every time. This is not at all a fancy fish curry and this is somehow applicable to most of the bong fish curries; we prefer to prepare fish curry with common spices with added veggies and those turn amazingly flavourful every time with all the variation; be it a Bhetki Maacher Aloo Phulkopi diye or Kalia or a bowl full of Aloo Potol Diye Maacher Jhol. If Bhetki is not available we made the same fish curry with Rui Maach or Katla Maach (Rehu fish or Katla fish) or any variety of fish with big bones.
Alike all bong families we cherish our portion of rice with fish curry starting from hubby to me to the little one and both hubby’s and my in-laws. Nowadays, Mehebub started making the similar curry with tinned fish and he used to share his experiences with me while hearing us having Deshi Bhetki Maacher Aloo Phulkopi diye Kalia! Poor him indeed! Anyway, let me come back to the process involved in making this fish curry. Some very basic ingredients apart from Bhetki Maach, Potato halves and florets of Cauliflower what we Bongs called in winter “Shiter Phulkopi”. For this recipe I prefer to not to use chunks from a bigger size fish instead a medium size fish gives perfect taste to this light curry.
- Bhetki Fish Chunks: 5-6 (with bone preferably)
- Potato: 2-3 (Medium size)
- Cauliflower: 1 (Medium size)
- Onion: 2 (Medium size)
- Tomato: 1
- Ginger Paste: 1 Tsp.
- Garlic Paste: 1.5 Tsp.
- Bay leaf: 1
- Dried Red Chili: 1
- Green Cardamom: 1-2
- Whole Cumin Seed: ½ Tsp.
- Asafoetida: ¼ Tsp. (Optional)
- Cumin Powder: ⅔ Tsp.
- Coriander Powder: ⅔ Tsp.
- Bengali Garam Masala Powder: ½ Tsp.
- Turmeric Powder: 1 Tsp.
- Kashmiri Red Chili Powder: 1 Tsp. (or as per taste)
- Sugar: 1.5 Tsp. (optional)
- Salt: 1 Tsp. (or as per taste)
- Mustard Oil: 3 Tbsp. (can be replaced with Refined Oil)
- Ghee: ½ Tsp.
- Wash Bhetki fish chunks thoroughly and rub half of the salt and turmeric powder and leave those for 10 minutes.
- Slice Onions thinly and chop tomato into small pieces.
- After removing the skin cut potatoes into halves.
- Separate the florets from the cauliflower. I prefer to use medium size florets.
- Take cauliflower florets with a cup of water and microwave for 2 minutes in high temperature. This step can be replaced with boiling cauliflower for 2 minutes and discarding the water completely.*
- Now heat oil in a deep bottom pan and lightly fry fish chunks from both sides in medium flame for 2-3 minutes.**
- Strain fish chunks from oil and keep aside.
- Now fry potato halves in medium flame until those turn golden brown in colour and cooked ⅔ from inside. This will take around 5 minutes.***
- After frying the potatoes fry cauliflower florets in the remaining oil for 5 minutes until those turn brownish and crispy.
- Remove those from oil and temper the oil with a bay leaf, dried red chili, whole cumin seed and 2 green cardamom and cook for 1 minute in low flame.
- Mix asafoetida with a tbsp. of water and add the mixture into the tempering.
- When the water evaporated completely add sliced onion to the tempering and cook in medium flame until onion fried completely and turned into a brown colour for around 2-3 minutes.
- Add chopped tomatoes and mash using a spatula and cook until tomato mixed completely and leaves the edges of the pan.
- Add ginger and garlic paste at this point and mix thoroughly.
- Now add cumin powder, Coriander powder, Turmeric Powder, Sugar and Salt to the spice mix and cook for 2-3 minutes or till the oil comes out from the mixture and the mixture start leaving the edges of the pan. Add 1 Tsp of water in between if the mixture dries.
- Now add fried potatoes and mix thoroughly and add 2 Cup full of water to cover the potatoes completely and bring the mixture to boil in medium flame. It took me 5 minutes to boil potatoes after covering the pan with a lid. This time may vary with the type of potato. Keep checking the doneness of potatoes in between.
- Add fried cauliflower at this point and cook for 2 minutes.
- Now add fried fish pieces and ½ a cup of water and boil the curry for 2-3 minutes and finish it by adding Bengali Garam Masala Powder and little Ghee.
- Serve Bhetki Maacher Aloo Phulkopi diye Kalia with steamed rice!
*I prefer to steam Cauliflower a bit before cooking.
**Fish needs to be fried lightly if Bhetki is being used however required deep frying in case Rui or Katla fish used.
***Potatoes can be boiled before cooking if required and in that case no need to boil potatoes after frying.