|Bengali Muri Ghonto|
MURI GHONTO is an authentic fish dish for a Bengali. Being a Bengali, I have always loved fish and Muri Ghonto is among my favourite fish dishes. We grew up eating fish (maach in Bengali) almost everyday. Fish, meat and eggs (also onion and garlic) were only restricted on Thursdays due to religious reasons. When my younger sister and I were small, our father used to buy different kinds of fishes (mostly freshwater) on weekend mornings and my mother would do the dressing for each of the kinds and divide those fishes for the whole week by putting into neat plastic containers in the deep-freezer. Fish heads (called muro in Bengali) were kept separately for making a variety of authentic Bengali dishes (including the recipe shared today). My sister and I were very fond of eating the soft and juicy fish brain, so fish head curry was often in the menu. Sometimes my mother would cook the heads with lentils (muro diye dal), sometimes with green leaves, potatoes and mixed vegetables (pui shaak muro diye) and sometimes the Muri Ghonto was cooked with cabbage (muro diye badhakopir ghonto). The fish heads commonly used for all these Bengali dishes are those of Rohu (Latin name: Labeo rohita) or Catla (Latin name: Catla catla). Actually, you can pick up any big carp (or salmon) head for this. I generally prefer heads of fishes weighing 2–3 kg for this.
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Bengali Muri Ghonto (Fish Head Curry)
[White Chinese onions should not be used for this recipe. Indian purple onions, which are less juicy and can be browned easily, should be used for best results. If you have an aluminium or iron kadai or skillet, use it for better browning, instead of the non-stick. Mustard oil can be replaced with any other light oil.]Ingredients:
One fish head and a small piece of a 2-kg fish
Potatoes (medium-sized, cut into lengthwise pieces): 10–12 long pieces out of a single potatoOnion (chopped into medium-sized pieces): 4 tbsp
Onion (cut into very thin strips): ½ cup
Ginger paste: ½ tsp
Dried bay leaves: 1
Cinnamon stick (one-inch stick): 1
Green cardamoms: 3
Mustard oil: 6 tbsp
Salt: According to taste
Slit green chillies: 4
Cumin seeds: ¼ tsp
Fenugreek seeds: 1/6 tsp
Fennel seeds: ¼ tsp
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp (divided)
Cumin powder: ½ tsp
Coriander powder: ½ tsp
Heat the skillet. Add the mustard oil and heat it to the smoking point. Add the fish and cover immediately (oil sputters at this point, so be careful). The flame should be medium. Open the lid after 5 min and flip the fish heads.
|It is important to break the fish heads when these are almost fried. This process adds on to the taste of the final dish.|
After 5 min, break the fish heads (this is important) and add the chopped onions (4 tbsp). Continue to fry until the onions lose their purple colour and become very soft. Remove the onions and the fish from the oil with a perforated spoon.
In the same oil (if it looks very less, add some more), add the bay leaves, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and fennel seeds. When the cumin seeds look light brown in colour, add the dried bay leaves, cinnamon stick, green cardamoms, cloves and peppercorns.After these start sputtering, immediately add cumin powder, coriander powder and ½ tsp turmeric powder, mixed with a little water. Stir continuously.
When oil starts separating from the spices, add the thinly cut onions and sauté till the onions lose colour and become very soft. Add the ginger paste and ½ tsp salt.
|Notice the change in the colour for the onions. The onions should turn very soft and lose their colour. Crunchy or raw onions are an absolute no-no in Bengali cooking.|
|The oil should separate from the spices (as shown in this picture). Only then you can add the fish heads, as shown in the next picture.|