Needless to reiterate, we Bengalis love our fish.
And over hundreds of years, we have been intrepid innovators, experimenting fearlessly and unabashedly with fish.
It surely needed, for instance, 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 the Muitha dumplings, cooked in furiously boiling water and deep fried to a gorgeous golden.
We have, over centuries, paired fish with vegetables. Often not the most intuitive or usual of medleys.
Ilish with green bananas, for example.
Shol with the earthy radish.
Or, say, prawns with the humble unpretentious ol.
We have also never shied away from marrying fish with gorgeous greens.
Which Bengali (and I am the last one to succumb to stereotypes) would not drool over pui shaak cooked with Ilish maacher matha (Hilsa head) ?
Radish greens with shrimps, any takers ? (The very thought and I am already salivating here)
But a melange of fish and fruit ? Green mangoes yes. But beyond that, no, not too many instances spring to mind.
I jog my mind faster. Yes, there’s Ilish with pineapples.
And, how did I forget the delectable Koi Komola ? Climbing perch cooked with oranges.
That’s why I have been sulking ever since I brought home the seasons first produce of oranges.
Desperately looking around for koi (climbing perch) to pair those plump luscious oranges with.
So when my fishmonger gets me live koi this morning, swimming in exultant playfulness in his battered aluminium handi, I am ecstatic.
This is the moment I have been waiting for.
So a Koi Komola it is this pleasant February morning. Koi or climbing perch cooked in orange juice. Orange segments thrown in for a further explosion of citrus.
Maa’s delectable Koi Komola. A riot on the palate. A throwback to all those weekends in Assam where koi was available aplenty during winters.
Enjoy before the orange season is over !!!
Koi Komola (Climbing Perch with Oranges)
- 4 koi maach or climbing perch
- 1 cup orange juice freshly made
- 1 orange peeled and the segments separated
- 1.5 tbsp onion paste
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp green chili paste
- 3-4 green chilies slit
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 2.5 tbsp mustard oil
- sugar to taste
- salt to taste
- Marinate the fish with salt and a pinch of turmeric powder. Keep aside.
- Heat oil in a frying pan, fry the fish till light golden. Keep aside on a kitchen absorbent towel.
- To the same oil, add the onion paste, a pinch of salt and sugar, cook till the paste turns a gorgeous golden brown and the onions are cooked. Stir in the ginger paste, green chili paste, turmeric powder and red chili powder, cook over a medium flame till the masala starts to release oil.
- Add 1/2 cup of warm water and gently place the fried fish in the pan. Cook for 5-7 minutes over a low flame.
- Pour in the orange juice, sprinkle in the salt and sugar, throw in the green chilies. Give it a hearty stir.
- Add the orange segments and simmer for a further 3-4 minutes till the gravy has slightly thickened.
- Adjust seasonings and serve hot.