Friday, November 5, 2010

Baby's Day out- A food fiction featuring Doi Macch

Doi Macch
Rishi loved my cooking. He never could find fault in any food his Mamma cooked. I enjoyed feeding my son every evening when he was young. When he was growing up, I looked forward to packing his lunch every morning. I loved making pastas for him and packing it with a hot pack. “You make the best pasta, Mamma”, he used to say when he came back from school. I still have his Mother’s Day card that said,” My Mom is a great cook.” 20 years later, I still liked looking at it once in a while.

This morning, I was busy making all his favorite food- dimer jhol, palak paneer, luchi and of course his favorite gulab jamun. He was bringing home Sudeshna, the special person in his life, to meet his parents. He has been talking about her over the phone for the past few months- how kind she was, how she loved animals, how well she cooked and how she made the most awesome Doi Maach( fish curry with yogurt). I had spoken to her over the phone a couple of times, “Mashi, I would like to make some doi maach for you when I come next week. Would you like that?” I had reluctantly said “Yes, of course.” To tell the truth, I was not looking forward to someone else cooking in my kitchen for my son. “Aami ki doi maach banate janina? Aar, tacchara Rishi oto maachh bhalobashe na. (Didn’t I know how to cook Doi Maachh? Rishi does not like fish that much anyway)”, I had told Snehomoy. My husband joked,” Are you jealous Chandra, now that someone else is cooking for your son?” “Why should I be jealous? I am not like those other mothers who still molly cuddle their son.” I walked out to the balcony of our Delhi flat and started contemplating. “Am I not happy for my son? My Rishi is not a Mamma’s boy. I have taught him how to cook and keep a house so that he doesn’t think its just a woman’s chore.” I picked up the tholi and sent Snehomoy off to get some fresh fish from the local market.
As noon approached, I asked the maid to clean the fish and apply some salt and turmeric to it. The bell rang, and Rishi walked in with Sudeshna. She was wearing beautiful green chiffon with such ease. ”Is it to impress me?” I wondered. She felt so much at home right on the first day. “Let’s go Mashi.We have got a Doi Maachh to cook.” she chirped. “Where is the doi (yogurt) Mashi? Have you whisked it yet?” I hadn’t as I did not like the doi to get watery before I poured it in the pan. I took a deep breath, handed her all she needed and decided to walk out of the kitchen.
I looked from the dining table as she expertly fried the fish and cooked the curry with such an ease. She felt so much at home that I felt like she was part of the family. She walked to the table and help me lay the table. The Doi Maachh really looked delicious. We all sat down for lunch. She complimented my palak paneer and called it the best she had ever eaten. I mixed the doi maaach gravy with the rice and tasted it. It was delicious. I started eating with gusto and realized that I was starving. I loved it. It was just like Ma’s Doi Maach. I looked up as Snehamoy shared a joke with Sudeshna. I saw Rishi finishing the Palak Paneer and taking a bite of the fish. He smiled at me. I felt the tension leaving my body as a bliss descended upon me. I guess this was time to let my son go. He was going out in the world, and was going to be a part of another’s woman life. He was going to love her food and was going to share a home with her. I guess it was the day for my baby’s day out.

Ingredients Rui Fish -8-10 pieces
Plain Yogurt -1 cup
Onion puree – 1 cup
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Garlic paste- 1 tsp
Tomatao puree- ¼ cup
Chilli powder-1/2 tsp
Turmeric – 1tsp
Sugar- 1 tsp
Salt –to taste
Garam Masala Powder -1 tsp
Bay Leave -1 or 2
Whole cardamoms- 2-3
Oil – ¾ cup

• Clean the fish pieces and coat them with 1 tsp of salt and half the turmeric.
• In a shallow pan, pour ½ cup of oil. When the oil is hot, shallow fry the fish until its lightly browned on both sides. Don’t fry it too much as the fish turns too tough.
• Discard the oil and heat up the rest of the oil and add the cardamoms and bay leaves in the hot oil.
• When they splutter, add the onion puree and cook it on medium heat. When the onion turns light brown, add the garlic paste and cook for a minute.
• Add the ginger paste, salt, chili powder, turmeric and sugar and a few tablespoons of water and cook for 2 minutes.
• Add the tomato puree and cook till the oil seems to be leaving the sides of the pan.
• Meanwhile, whisk the yogurt with ½ cup of water.
• Add this to the pan and turn the heat to simmer.
• Cook for 5 minutes and then add the fish and let the curry come to a boil.
• Add the garam masala powder just before you turn off the stove.
• Serve it with plain rice.
Probably every Bangali who knows basic cooking knows how to cook a Doi Maach. My daughter loves it because of its tangy and sweet taste. The fish pieces mainly used are the softer part of the fish known as the peti.

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