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Malabar spinach berries with hilsa fish head

Pui pholer charchari: We have a single Malabar spinach plant growing in our grandmother’s lot. It has managed to climb all of the two stories of the old house in search of sunlight. I was remembering their berries from our childhood days. The berries turn deep purple when they mature and also get crunchy. These are fried and served with rice. And as a kid, what is not to like about tiny food that makes your tongue go purple. And lo and behold, we managed to lay hands on a bunch of these berries, albeit not quite ripe yet which allows us to make this particular dish. I have no way of replicating this exact dish elsewhere, but I think a sturdy leafy vegetable like mustard green might just work.

Malabar spinach (and expanded view of berries), potatoes, hilsa (Ilish) head

The following will serve 4. Lets assume that we have 4 cups of berries accompanied by some of the Malabar spinach leaves. Clean, chop and set aside. Peel and chop a medium size potato in 1/2 inch pieces and set aside. The dish calls for head of a single hilsa fish, cleaned and cut in two uniform pieces. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric, coat the heat and set aside. If I get to try to make this in Bay Area, I will try with other fish head or perhaps, fish jowls.

In a kadai, take 2 Tbsp of mustard oil, let it reach smoking point on medium heat, reduce heat and add the hilsa fish heads and gently fry for 7-10 minutes until nicely browned. Take them out and set aside. Add the potatoes and brown them. Take them out and set aside. Top up with 1 Tbsp of mustard oil, when hot, add 1 tsp of “panch phoron” (black mustard, nigella, fennel, cumin, fenugreek), let splutter for 10 sec, add back the potatoes, and berries. Add 3/4 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder. Cook stirring gently for 5-7 minutes. Add the fish head and continue to fry until the released water in fully reabsorbed back and the potatoes are cooked through.

In the final stage, to 2 Tbsp of mustard paste, add 2 Tbsp water, stir and mix and add to the kadai. Stir to coat the vegetables and fish with the mustard paste. Adjust salt to taste and switch off heat. Top it with 2 Tbsp of raw mustard oil and mix gently. Serve with rice.

For mustard paste (black and yellow mustard, green chilis); For panch phoron (black mustard seeds, fennel, cumin, nigella seeds, fenugreek); Turmeric and mustard oil

Written by Som

December 12, 2021 at 8:35 am

Posted in Recipe

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