Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fishy Tales

Buying fish has always been a crucial discussion and conversation point in our family.
Well, used to be.
Most of the evening small talk  between my mother and the neighbourhood aunties , as they strolled casually up and down the lanes connecting the houses, was about the rohu which Mr. Ganguly got the other day from Char Ali Bazar, or the small pabho ( pavda) that Mr. Baruah haggled for just  twenty rupees. Went on to the fish sour curry recipe and the steamed mustard secret.

My grandmother's house in Dibrugarh was by the mighty Brahmaputra and we would skip along with my father in the mornings as he went to the fish market and inspected the fresh catch, eventually  returning with a big glassy eyed fish, tomatoes, greens and ginger.

My mother would always call my sister and me when she was frying fish for the curry and give us a piece of the deep fried delicious fish with two onion rings and some ketchup.

The pieces were also carefully served up. My father would get two large and the choicest pieces. My sister and I would get the "peti" ( belly). Mother would have the tail . The guts would be fried with rice and coriander, the head with moong dal.

Kolkata saw me landing up at Gariahat market  on Sunday mornings buying fresh chingri, katla and betki.
 The betki fries served up in some of the finest diners on Park Street was to die for.

Then came Mumbai. My trust with the catch of the sea- pomfrets, surmais, rawas, gassi dishes, rawa coated fires, bombil fry, Gazalee thalis, koliwadas. Fell in love with it all.

INA Market and CR Park Delhi are my new haunts now. With my fluent Bengali , I almost pass off for one and haggle and gaggle till I get a week's stock of hilsa, prawns, rohu and the works. I have even started buying squids. Frozen fish fingers ornate my deep freezer box.

Amazing how life has such varied experience even when it comes to fish.


  1. "modighanto" - hope I spelt it correctly - its almost a biryani made with the head of the fish. Yum!!

    What about the story about bengalis eating the head of the fish to make themselves more intelligent. The poor bengali kids in school who came first - people did not give their hard work any credit but gave all the credit to the fish "matha" that their mothers cooked for them.

  2. Love the way you play with words... always..