A friend of mine from Nagaland once taught me how to cook fish in her native style and I have been hooked on this recipe. I have cooked a variety of fishes using this recipe and it has become my favourite way of preparing fish.
The meitei cuisine, with all the tasty variety of dishes that it has to offer, fails to do justice to meats and fishes. We tend to make all of these into curries as we have come to refer to a narrow spectrum of Indian culinary palette for inspiration for our meat recipes. And often we cannot make out whether a gravy is from chicken curry, fish curry or pork curry. In short we tend to kill the essence of the meat or the fish with repetitive loads of masala and oil!
With this recipe the gravy is mostly fish stock that oozes out of the fish. And since there is no oil added, the oil that comes out of the fish does not need to compete with other oils and so one can taste the richness of it.
For this recipe today I have decided to go with the strong and majestic porong!
Porong is one of the many indigenous fishes of the Imphal valley. It is also known as the common snakehead. It is a very strong and hardy fish which can survive outside water for quite a long time. And that is why you will always get fresh live porong in the Imphal markets. And that is also why you will often have an episode of a porong escape on your way home from the fish market. And believe me, trying to catch an escaped porong can be quite a scene. The fish is mostly muscles with only a small portion for it’s guts and other organs which makes it a very strong fish…. so good luck with the that!
This is the first time that Korou has cleaned a porong (and he has done it well!)… this is the first time we are eating porong after getting married… and this is the first time I am cooking porong. So, here goes…
This simple recipe requires:
Cut the chilies into half lengthwise…
…cut the tomato into big wedges…
.. and peel the garlic cloves and crush them lightly.
Throw in the fish, tomatoes, garlic, chilies and salt in a wide shallow pan…
… and toss them around to get them to mix well.
Add half a cup of water to this mixture.
And place it over low flame. Keep the lid on.
It will get boiling in a few minutes. Leave it covered and over low flame for about half an hour. This will ensure the flavours of the ingredients to blend together thoroughly.
Meanwhile, cut the culantro into thin strips. This is purely for my aesthetic preference. You can cut it whichever way you want.
Turn off the flame and sprinkle the garnish. The fish is done!
This dish is a little sour with the umami of garlic and fish stock… and the smokiness of the chilies add a delightful maturity to the taste.
And as usual, this dish is best served with a plate of hot rice. Enjoy this healthful fish!
Summer is coming to an end and the nights are getting cooler. Sougri (or kenaf), the one Summer’s loyal vegetable, will soon start flowering and dry up.
Before the season ends, I wanted to do another post with sougri and this recipe came to mind when I was just about to fall asleep. I had then slightly raised my head and squinted my eyes to speak to Korou, “Let’s have pork for lunch tomorrow.” And it was set! I went back to sleep.
I wanted to come up with a light pork stew which wasn’t too oily but also wanted it to be flavourful with at least three interesting flavours coming together. So, I decided that one of them should be PORK! And since I have never tried cooking pork with sougri, I decided to give it a go. And so, sougri is the second ingredient. I am using szechuan pepper (or mukthrubi maru) as the third ingredient to give it an exotic spicy flavour without making it too hot.
You might be thinking that the name of this recipe is made up, since you never heard it before. That’s because it is. My father made up the name when I was about 12 years old! Actually there is a story behind it to justify the name. It goes like this.
My Dad was posted in Kashmir in those days and he got a cook to help him out. He was staying alone since the rest of the family had stayed back in Imphal. Mama wasn’t around to cook for him, so the cook did most of the cooking. He wasn’t very experienced at cooking; and so wasn’t very familiar with popular recipes. But he always managed to save his job by improvising and coming up with his own recipes. We stayed with Papa during our vacations and that’s when we got to taste his cooking. Among other dishes, his chicken was the best and it never tasted like any chicken curry we had. His name was Ramaiya and Papa started referring to his chicken as Ramaiya Chicken! Papa liked his curry so much that he learned the recipe from Ramaiya and passed it on to his children too. To this day, Ramaiya Chicken remains a popular dish in our house.
Sougri kangsoi is a simple dish…. simple to make with only a few ingredients. But I have to confess that I was never satisfied with, what I thought was, my preparation of sougri kangsoi. It never managed to match the balance of flavours that my mom’s sougri kangsoi had achieved… or for that matter, those made by other seasoned and experienced ladies… (men rarely indulge in preparing kangsoi… RARELY, though not never).
After getting married I was cooking more of the traditional dishes and I was determined to get them right. That’s when I started observing my mother-in-law’s cooking. I was using the same ingredients as she was but her kangsoi had the balance while mine was always a little off. The lack of balance was subtle, and it bothered me more because it was so. It is fairly easy to catch a mistake in the recipe if the thing that is off, is significant… but it takes an amount of concentration and observation to pin a mistake if it is so subtle. Almost like trying to cut a very thin slice of cake… bad analogy, is it?
Now, I have got it right and I am excited to share the trick to making sougri kangsoi with the right balance of flavours.
Yes, we have started brewing our own kombucha at home and this one is purple! And it came out nice and fizzy too. Bye bye COCA COLA!
Hello… I am sorry for replying late… it’s been quite long since I checked my messages. I am not certain about the number of amlas that make a spoon of the powder. But I can assume that a pill must have 2-3 dry amla powder in it.
It is only today, when I have finally got myself to blog after a long span of procrastination, that I realised that it has been over a year since I last posted. A lot has happened since then, the grandest among them being Korou and I getting married. With all the wedding work over, we started focusing on joint projects such as a short film we are currently working on. And so, the blog got ignored for a while. But not anymore! I plan to make up for all those days… yes!
I had hoped to come back with an elaborate recipe but I guess this will have to do for now. I didn’t know what to name it but I wanted “autumn” to feature in the name. Pumpkins always spell Autumn to me. My father had given me a big pumpkin the last time I visited and I was determined to cook it in 101 ways… well maybe not that many ways but many just the same.