Chitol Maachher Muithya (Clown Knifefish dumplings in a rich gravy)
She taught me the trick to make the perfect dumplings — cook them first in boiling water and then proceed to fry them. This is what gives the muithyas an almost elastic consistency, something that I've seen almost everyone struggle with. So armed by her little tip, I started my mission muithya. I didn't allow anybody to help me in the prep so that, if it turns out well, I could take the entire credit for it! And trust me, they turned out better than I've had anywhere. I'm not exaggerating, even SNB thought so! It was quite a "Eureka" moment for me. :)
For the muithya/kofta/dumpling:
Chitol maach (Clown Knifefish/Indian featherback fish), gada (dorsal part): 500 gm
Onion paste: 2 tbsp
Garlic paste: 2 tbsp
Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
Potato, boiled and mashed: 1 big
Green chillies, sliced finely: 2
Turmeric powder: 1.5 tsp
Kashmiri red chilli powder: 1tsp
Salt, to taste
Mustard Oil: 2-3 tbsp
Water: as required
Mustard oil: 1 tbsp
Potatoes, parboiled and diced: 2
Bay leaf: 2
Cinnamon sticks: 2
Green cardamom: 6
Black cardamom: 2
Mace, grated: 1/2 tsp
Onion paste: 4 tbsp
Garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Ginger paste: 3/4 tbsp
Tomatoes, roughly chopped: 2
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Kashmiri red chilli powder: 1 tsp
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Cream or yoghurt: 2 tbsp (optional)
Ghee: 1.5 tsp (optional)
Garam masala powder: 1/2 tsp
1. Clean the fish thoroughly and pat dry. Now with a sharp knife cut along both sides of the spine. Now scrape the fish meat out with a spoon. Remove all bones.
2. Now to the fish meat add all ingredients listed under muithya/kofta except mustard oil and water. Mix well into a smooth batter.
3. Wet your hands with some warm water. Take a little of the filling in your hands and roll them in between your palms to make fish balls. Repeat for the entire filling.
6. Heat water in a pan till it starts boiling. Drop the fish balls, 5 to 6 at a time. After the are done they'll automatically float to the top of the water. Each set will take 5-6 minutes approximately.
7. Heat a deep-bottomed pan/kadhai till smoking point. Now add mustard oil. and gradually add the boiled fish dumplings. Do this is batches of 7-8. Fry till the fish dumplings crisp up uniformly. Drain on kitchen towel and set aside. In the same oil fry the parboiled potato cubes till golden brown. Again drain on kitchen towel.
8. The muithya and potatoes are done, now for the gravy. In a kadhai, add mustard oil and allow it to heat up. Add bay leaves and let it splutter for 30 seconds. Add cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves, mace and cook for 45 seconds more.
9. Add the onion paste and cook on medium high heat till it changes colour slightly. Add garlic paste and ginger paste, salt and sugar, and keep stirring for 3-4 minutes. Now add tomatoes and stir for another 2 minutes. Mix the powdered spices with 2 tbsp of water and add it to the pan. Mix well, cover and cook till oil separates. Add hot water bit by bit and allow the gravy to soak it up. Repeat this for 2-3 times.
10. Now add a cup of warm water (more or less depending on the consistency you're looking at) and bring to a boil. Now lower the heat and add the fish dumplings and potatoes. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes.
11. Add cream or yoghurt (if using) at this juncture and cook for another couple of minutes.
12. Sprinkle ghee and garam masala and serve hot with plain rice. Aaah, heaven!
Eat Like a Bong: Day 17