Idle ruminations as I cook my Ilish Begun er Jhol this morning-
In the universe of cooking, almost dwarfing the rest of the pack, stand out, conspicuous and tall, some magical ingredients. Rare. Seasonal. Delicate.
And despite the freewheeling experimental genius in you, that aspires to give a wicked twist to every classic and use every ingredient in ways unimaginable to most, you dare not fuss with these ones. You just dont !!!
So when my eyes fell on the gorgeous 1.8 kg shimmering silver ilish my husband got from the market, I exactly knew what NOT to do.
Do as little please.
Just let the ilish be the cynosure of the dish and shine.
And so it had to be minimalistic Zen – the headiness of mustard oil, the earthiness of kalonji, the heat of green chillies and the humility of fried aubergine all perfectly contented today to exercise yogic restraint and just let the prima donna steal the thunder !!!
Ilish Begun er Jhol – Cannot be any simpler, and for heavens sake, don’t make this any more complex !!!
Ilish Begun Er Jhol (Hilsa and Eggplant Curry)
- 4 pc Ilish or hilsa
- 1/2 of a large eggplant
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp nigella seeds or kalonji
- few green chillies slit
- 3 tbsp mustard oil
- salt to taste
- Cut the eggplant to 1 inch thick batons, wash well and keep aside.
- Marinate the fish with turmeric powder and a little salt.
- In a small bowl take a little warm water and dissolve the remaining turmeric powder and salt to a gorgeous golden paste.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan, shallow fry the fish. Keep aside.
- In the same oil, fry the eggplant till golden brown. Keep aside.
- To the same pan, add the remaining oil and when smoking hot, add the kalonji and green chillies. Stir for a few seconds until they splutter, and now it is time to add the turmeric paste. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add a cup of warm water and bring to a boil. Add the eggplant batons, cover and cook over a low flame for another 5 odd minutes. Add the fried fish and keep on simmer for just a couple of minutes.
- Adjust the salt and serve hot with steamed rice. Heaven !!!!