The rui macher matha had been divided into two, the act carefully done by the fish monger. It was a busy day in the fish market and the fish monger had little time to hear and take care to dress the fish the way his customers wanted. But to keep his regulars in good humour…chances are there of losing the regular customer for the customer is always right…he tried to satisfy his known people.
“Separate the peti and the peeth and make pieces so that no one will grumble and say, ‘aamar piece-ta choto keno?’”
“I understand what you say, aar matha taar ki korbo, gota na adha (will I keep the head as one or cut it into half)”.
I was happy at least he cared for me and my need. “Aadha kore dao”…the rest of the conversation lost in the din of the fish market.
Bengalis love to use and cook their fish in every possible way keeping in mind not to throw away any edible part. There are people who just discard and throw away the head and the tail part. Then why do they eat fish at all?
Can’t go against personal choice.
I never draw up my menu chart of the day or week in advance. With no earlier proposal for anything particular to cook and serve, the fish head served a good purpose. There was palong/palak at home and to complement it there were the veggies and the fish head.
The two halves of the fish head stared at me as I washed them under running water. Having finished up with the washing part, sat them on a plate. The two eyes looked at me setting a question to which they knew there was no answer. The eyes now seemed like the target but I am not Arjun to aim at the eye and win. I felt more like a loser for I have not spared the life. Then, this is part of natural living and now felt I was not a sinner.
To start off the board, it was necessary to kick start off with my work.
Rui macher matha diye Palong/palak chorchori – work begins.
First rubbed some salt and haldi powder and then fried the head.
Chopped the palong/palak, washed it thoroughly.
Cubed some potatoes and pumpkin.
2 green chillies ready at hand.
After heating 1 tsp. of oil till smoking time, broke the green chillies into half and threw them into the oil. The first hish-hash started coming and then in went a tsp. of panchphoron. The spices started talking in their language as they befriended with one another and I looked at them to see they spluttered for some seconds and then went the chopped palong/palak.
A little movement with the khunti to push the saag up and down. And then…dhop kore (all on a sudden) added the cubed pumpkin and potatoes. They also needed to move up and down, so that each one got proper heat.
In went the salt, ½ tsp. haldi powder, ¼ tsp. of red chilli powder, and again up and down to mix everything properly.
Who knows, the vegetables were enjoying my game or not. Soon the cover came and everything was left to cook on its own on slow heat for 2-3 minutes.
The saag/spinach had released its water, and, again the up and down went for a couple of time. The lid came again.
This went on for 10-12 minutes and by then the veggies and the leafy one has all come together to give a different look of its own.
The fried head parts were waiting for their chance. Broke them into tiny pieces and added to the cooking vessel.
Several up and down process went on for 2-3 minutes till all the water had evaporated and Palong sager chorchori was ready to be served.
Indeed it tasted good but the fish eyes still was visible before my eyes.
© gouri guha 2014