The words stayed with me althrough my eighteen hours flight back home.The young chap had spoken up his mind,something that the Husband could not do but had been trying to do for quite sometime now.For the past few days that I had been packing up,he somehow seemed a bit distant.And the repercussion was so funny that I could not stifle a laughter,even amidst all my woes!I have always been very critical towards a largish dollop of butter or a heaped spoonful of Ghee,lest it add to the layers of adipose at the complacent midriff and turn it into a billowy sack!The husband had always given in to my fanaticism until this day,when two heapfuls of Ghee made way to his plate of hot rice.My instant admonishment met with a smirk and a curt whiplash,which when interpreted,meant that now when I was going to be away(as if deliberately!),how was I to bother,even if he turned into a veritable sack!It was childish but it was touching...a crude way of letting me know how much I would be missed. The words got caught up somewhere in my throat.
And then there was our neighbor,this little boy,who would love to hop into our apartment and have a hearty time.Somehow,the undercurrent of emotions had him caught in between and the pint-sized mind sensed our distress.And the words tumbled out.I never felt great from the moment I learnt that we would have to stay apart for sometime,owing to our respective professional engagements.Although it would only be for a month or so,it still felt so overwhemingly hurting!It seems naive to say so in a world where long-distance relationships and couples staying apart are so part of the moving world,but it takes oodles of grit just to let that happen.Leaving behind loved ones to fend for themselves is no easy choice.To the keepers of society,we are the unpardonably sinister perpetrators out to ruin the social decree of man-woman equations in the circle of life.But little do they understand the emotional cataclysm that one has to see oneself through before taking the plunge.
Be that as it may,I could not leave the Husband all on his own without having him partake a portion of my culinary know-how.When the gut starts to howl,little does it know that the chef is out for a stroll and trying to reason would have the same consequences as singing an out-of-tune lullaby to a groggy,sleepy baby!So I set up an impromptu cooking class and what else but fish was the first on my menu - 'Pabda machher jhaal.'Pabda' or Indian Butterfish is a very sophisticated fish, fit for a special spread and 'Jhaal' is Bengali for a lightly spiced gravy flavored with turmeric,cumin and coriander with fiery green chilies thrown in.After all,the Bengali and the fish have always been so blatantly inseparable!The Husband turned out to be an ardent learner(a hitherto unknown trait;)) and soon there was a plate of hot,simmering 'Macher Jhaal' right on the table.For today's post,I will share this uber-simple recipe...the one that even the accidental chef could charm me with!Happy cooking!
Were you ever faced with a proposition similar to mine?In this fast-paced world,I'm sure many of you have.Share your experiences with me as I did.Maybe a word or two will ease your mind,just as it did for me!
Pabda machher jhaal(Fried Indian Butter in a lightly spiced gravy)
You will need:
Pabda or Indian Butterfish - 500 gms (roughly 6-7 pieces of fish);The fish is sold all cleaned up and ready at Bangaldeshi/Asian stores.The cleaned variety is easier to use as it is a lot less messier.
Green Chillies - 2-3;Split longitudinally into half
Turmeric powder - 2 teaspoons
Cumin powder - 2 teaspoons
Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon
Red Chilli powder - A pinch or as per taste
Paanch Phoron or Five spice - Half a teaspoon;It is readily available at Indian stores.
Salt to taste
Cooking oil(Mustard or Canola oil)
My way of cooking it
1.Wash the cleaned fish very well under running water and rub some turmeric powder and just a pinch of salt.This fish is usually a bit salty and so it is better not to add too much salt.
2.Heat about 1and 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a deep-bottomed wok and gently slide in the prepared fish when the oil is smoking hot.Let the fish fry till slightly golden on one side before flipping over to the other side.
3.When the fish is fried,remove from the oil.In a separate bowl,mix the turmeric,cumin,coriander and red chilli powder and add about a small cup of water.Stir well to form an even mixture.
4.Now to the oil,add a teaspoon of Paanch Phoron or Five Spice and let it splutter.Next,add the spice mixture of turmeric,cumin,coriander and red chilli to the hot oil and watch it sizzle up.Stir well and let the spices get cooked.
5.Let the gravy come to a boil and by that time,the gravy will thicken up a bit.Add the fried fish kept aside earlier and also add in the split green chillies.Let the gravy simmer for a while and then put off the heat.The 'machher jhaal' is ready to be served with hot rice!