“হেথায় আর্য, হেথা অনার্য
হেথায় দ্রাবিড়, চীন–
শক-হুন-দল পাঠান মোগল
এক দেহে হল লীন।
পশ্চিম আজি খুলিয়াছে দ্বার,
সেথা হতে সবে আনে উপহার,
দিবে আর নিবে, মিলাবে মিলিবে
যাবে না ফিরে,
এই ভারতের মহামানবের
The poet-philosopher had thundered, a century or so ago.
This was a nation, he had asserted, that had over centuries welcomed all with open arms, learnt and taught, adapted and influenced.
A nation where pluralism and diversity are celebrated, not derided.
A nation where Hindus celebrated Christmas with the same gusto as Muslims joined the festivities of Durga Pujas and Christians queued up for Biryani on the holy occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr.
In a world riddled with intolerance and bigotry, India has long stood like a beacon of hope. An oasis of reason in a mad bigoted world.
This is our identity, this is who we are.
And nothing, I repeat nothing, can lead us astray.
My blog has proudly celebrated Durga Puja and Christmas, Diwali and Eid with the same enthusiasm.
There’s little in the universe that provides me more ethereal bliss than cooking bhog on Kojagori Lokkhi Pujo, the ovens work on an overdrive, baking pies and puddings for Yuletide and the alluring aroma of Biryani invariably wafts from the kitchen every Eid.
This is me.
And this is my kitchen.
And with Christmas round the corner and a treasure trove of 1920s Calcutta recipes in my hands, I continue on my eclectic sojourn with Piyali Boudi’s Thakumar Khata, and this morning it is a stunning fish bake. Western techniques at play on our native indigenous ingredients.
Fish Bake. Gorgeous Katla steaks. The zing of mustard paste. The warmth of ginger. The fiendish heat from green chilies. The freshness of green coriander leaves. The perfume of ghee. All baked to sublime perfection.
Yet another East meets West recipe from Thakumar Khata.
Fish Bake, the Anglo Indian Way
- 4-5 pieces Katla maach steaks
- 2 eggs
- 3 onion finely chopped
- 2 tbsp green chilies finely chopped
- 2 tbsp onion paste
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- 1/4 cup coriander leaves chopped
- 2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
- 1.5 tbsp tomato sauce
- 1/2 vinegar
- 1 tbsp black pepper corns freshly ground
- 1 tbsp breadcrumb
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1.5 tbsp ghee
- salt to taste
- ghee for greasing
- Marinade the fish steaks with a little salt. Heat oil in a pan, shallow fry the fish steaks. Allow them to cool enough to handle. Mash roughly, deboning the fish steaks carefully. Keep aside.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
- Soak both the mustard seeds in warm water for 15 odd minutes. Drain from water, make a smooth paste along with two green chilies and a pinch of salt.
- Whip two eggs in a bowl with a little salt.
- Take the deboned fish steaks in a mixing bowl, add the onion paste, ginger paste, mustard paste, chopped onions, green chilies, coriander leaves, breadcrumbs, black pepper powder, whipped eggs, ghee, tomato sauce and vinegar. Give it all a hearty mix.
- Grease the baking mould generously with ghee, add the fish mix. Level with back of a spoon. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot.