Its often joked that the Bengali gastronome travels the world, but returns home to savour his maacher jhol and bhaat.
Its difficult, if not impossible, to explain the stature of maacher jhol in Bengali cuisine. Its by far the undisputed leader of the classes and masses. Cooked with the same pride and gusto from the busy humble roadside stall in Dalhousie, Kolkata to the glam Michelin star kitchens of upmarket restaurants the world over. It is synonymous with the Bengali identity. An embodiment of their undying love for food, especially their fish. Simple and earthy, yet so comforting.
There are a myriad ways to stir up a maacher jhol. And every mother and grandmother has her secret tip. Yet the fundamentals remain the same. Fried fish simmered in a tomato-ginger gravy. Flavoured with cumin. Maybe a dash of ground coriander. Topped with fresh coriander. And a generous squeeze of lemon.
Here’s my recipe. Specially for my dear friend Suranjana who, elated at the sight of rohu at a local fishmonger in Seoul, requested me for the recipe.
Happy cooking Suranjana and take care.