Serve it hot (Pomfret kosha)

August 25, 2010

It’s called pampa in Portuguese, saranga in Marathi, vavval in Tamil and avoli in Malayalam, but nothing compares to the sweetness with which pomfret is endearingly called in Bangladesh: rupchanda (the beautiful silvery orbs) and kalachanda (the black ones).

Though the Calcutta bhadralok, out of syntactical ignorance, still asks the fishmonger for a kilo of pomflet, I found their Dhaka counterparts adopt the more lilting tone in the markets: “Aiz rupsanda koto koira?” (How much are pomfrets for today?)

So when Narayan, the saviour of all Bengalis living in Delhi’s Mayur Vihar, coaxed me the other day: “Rupsanda loiya zaan. Ekkare A-class (My pomfrets are top class today),” I was struck by pleasurable nostalgia.

The marinated fish and its accompaniments (Pic: Dwaipayan Ghosh Dastidar)

Not only is the silvery-white pomfret tastier than its black cousin, it also doesn’t smell so much of the sea.

Back home with my weekly catch, I decided to experiment a bit. Though i usually settle for fresh lime juice to marinate the fish — you can also use vinegar to cut out the smell — i thought of using lime cordial (an excess of it spoiled many a vodka I have had).

I love rohu, hilsa, mourola, parshe, prawns, bekti or pretty much any fish fried and served with tea, so it’s of no surprise that pomfret fry with a squeeze of lime and green salad is one of the ways to pamper the glutton in me.

Ma, though, wanted me to cook pomfret kosha (fish in a thick hot gravy).

Because onion and tomato as a base would not have yielded enough gravy for the four of us to eat with rice, she gave me an idea. Finely chopped potato and brinjal would add body to the fish kosha.

We had steaming rice, daal, karela ki subzi, muli ki subzi, pomfret kosha and mango chutney. (Pic: Dwaipayan Ghosh Dastidar)

I was initially apprehensive, having used potato and brinjal as the principal base only while cooking a hot dish of Bombay duck (loitta/lote maacher bhuna), a similar preparation of dried fish (the supremely pungent shutki maachh) and grinded prawn (chingri bata).

The clouds of doubts dispelled midway into cooking the dish with the tomato, onion, potato and brinjal forming an inviting body of gravy into which the fried pomfrets were raring to be lowered.

At the end, things came out well, though i felt like kicking myself for not buying coriander (dhaniapatta) to sprinkle on top of the dish before serving.

Pomfret kosha (serves four)

Marinate four pomfrets in lime juice and refrigerate overnight.

Smear the fish with salt and turmeric the next day and fry them preferably in mustard oil.

Finely dice potato and brinjal and set aside.

Chop onions, garlic and ginger, slit some green chilies and empty the mix in spattering mustard oil (5-6 tbsp)

Add turmeric, red chili powder, salt and a pinch of sugar to it and stir the contents in the pan for three minutes before adding a coarsely chopped tomato.

Add the diced potato and brinjal and vigorously stir for another five minutes, cover the pan and let the contents simmer for some time.

Add a cup of warm water when the oil floats on top. Gently place the fish in the thick gravy, stir cautiously and simmer for five more minutes.

Garnish with chopped coriander before serving with steaming hot rice.

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9 Responses to “Serve it hot (Pomfret kosha)”

  1. Sharmi said

    Yummmmm it tasted, just like this yummm post. But I always prefer fried pomfret…it is crispy and lipsmacking. But this kosha was killing too :)

  2. netdhaba said

    @Sharmi: Me too… fried pomfret is something!
    Thanks for your comment :)

  3. debjani ray said

    Looks yuummm. I am trying this out soon.

  4. NP said

    Yah, I LOVE fried pomfret…more than the curry. But this preparation is something I have never tried. Looks like it’s definitely worth trying once. BTW, that muli ki sabzi…was it mulo’r chenchki with bori? Looking at it reminded me of my mom’s mulo sabzi.

  5. netdhaba said

    @Debjani: Please try out. You won’t be disappointed.
    Thanks for the comment and please read on :)

  6. netdhaba said

    @NP: Try you can, but fried pomfret remains the best deal.
    You got it right about the mulo chhencki, but there was no bori :(
    Thanks a ton for the comment

  7. NP said

    Sorry for posting a non-pomfret related comment here. But today I made dhoka’r dalna, and wanted to share the experience.
    I guess it’s one of the toughest and most time-consuming things I have ever made. The only other dish I can think of that takes me so much time to make is kachkola’r kofta. I used a food processor to make a paste of the dal, but my mother would use shil nora. I can’t imagine how she ever did it, considering how we would frequently ask her to make it! I pretty much lost patience mid way while cooking the dhoka, though it did turn out good. Phew! I don’t think I will make it again for a long time.

  8. netdhaba said

    @NP: Bahut dhoka khaya zindagi mein, bas aar na! Jokes apart, it’s a nice dish that ranks just after chhanar dalna (not paneer) in my favourite veg tarkari list. Coincidentally, we were discussing dhokar dalna last night after which Sharmi promised to cook it soon.
    Keep cooking and please feel free to write in with kitchen experiences, recipes and even pictures.
    Cheers!

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