There are days when wallowing in idle ruminations gives me the most sublime of pleasures.
If this were a Sunday morning, it would possibly have been excusable.
But for a Monday mid-day, with to-do lists running berserk and the rest of the week promising to be a manic frenzy at its best, me trying to decipher why chitol maach was ever christened as clown knifefish (no, I didn’t make that name up, you sceptics, that is the English name for our very own chitol maach), it is indeed sacrilege.
Well, to whose wondering in awe what triggered the musings, it is those gorgeous chitol peti (belly part of the fish) steaks that rest on my kitchen counter. Happily soaking in the salt and golden turmeric. And patiently awaiting my next set of instructions.
Back to random ramblings.
It surely needed a maverick genius to think that the incredibly bony, almost inedible gada (dorsal portion) of the chitol maach could be scraped (to magically remove all those lurking bones), shaped lovingly into dumplings, cooked in furiously boiling water and deep fried to a gorgeous golden ?
Chitol Muithas are absolutely divine. And that was dinner last evening.
What I have remaining for lunch this morning are these blessed peti steaks.
What would do justice to these brilliant beauties ? I muse.
A peti kalia?
A cumin perfumed jhol with an overload of boris (dried lentil dumplings) and a profusion of coriander stalks and leaves ?
Maybe some other day.
The irreverent mind lost in aimless wanderlust this morning yearns for something no-fuss, yet delectable.
And what better than Maa’s dom chitol ?
Shallow fried chitol steaks. A generous slather of caramelised onion. The earthy heat of ginger. The tart of yoghurt. The sweetness of raisins. The decadence of mawa. The perfume of green cardamom. And a luxuriant dollop of ghee. Sealed in a dekchi. To keep all those sublime aromas trapped. Cooked over a lazy flame. Slow and languorous. Till just done.
The alluring magic of cooking on dom.
Food heaven, isnt it ?
So the next time, you are done with your muithas, don’t frown at those peti steaks.
Try a dom chitol, I guarantee you shall fall in love with it !!
Dom Chitol (Chitol Maach Cooked in Dum)
- 3-4 chitol peti (belly part of the chitol)
- 1/2 cup yogurt whipped
- 50 g mawa or khowa
- 3 tbsp raisins
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- 2 tbsp onion paste
- 2-3 green cardamom
- 1 one inch cinnamon stick
- 2-3 cloves
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp mustard oil
- 1 tbsp ghee
- salt to taste
- Flour dough for sealing
- Pre-heat the oven to 170C.
- Marinate the fish with salt and a pinch of turmeric powder, keep aside.
- Soak the raisins in warm water for 10 minutes. Take 2/3 of the raisins and make a coarse paste. Keep aside.
- Heat oil in a pan, shallow fry the fish for 3-4 minutes. Keep aside.
- To the same oil, throw in the bay leaves, crushed cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Allow the spices to splutter and release their aroma.
- Add the onion paste, fry till the onions are cooked and the paste is a gorgeous golden. Remove from heat.
- Take the whipped yogurt in a separate bowl, add to it the mawa, ginger paste, raisin paste, turmeric powder, red chili powder, sugar and salt, mix well.
- Add the yoghurt mixture to the fried onion paste, mix thoroughly.
- Now take an oven proof pan, gently place the fried fish, pour the yoghurt- fried onion paste mixture over the fish, coat the fish evenly with the masala paste.
- Throw in the remaining raisins, add a generous dollop of ghee and adjust seasonings.
- Close the pan with a lid, seal with the flour dough.
- Bake the fish for 10-15 minutes in the preheated oven.
- Serve hot with rice.