As a kid, I never liked this chorchori. And I could never understand why my mum loved it so. I used to wonder, what is the fun in eating parts of the fish which do not have any flesh. It was only much later in life, when I learned, it is the fish head and its bones that are packed with flavour and make the fish taste the way it does. And the way this (slightly more spicy) chorchori is prepared, using only a few ingredients, only intensifies all that flavour, a hundred times more. Just imagine !
Just so you know, Bhetki or Bekti (Asian Sea Bass) is quite popular in many regions of the country. Apart from Bengal, it is also quite well loved in the southern states and is called Koduva, Kalaanji or Pandugappa. This fish is also very popular in Thai cuisine.
Bengalis love the Bhetki and make a lot of things out of it. Besides curries, some of the most popular delicacies that the Bhetki yields are - fish fingers, fish cutlets, fish chops, bhetki paturi and the most loved of all, fish fry. The fish is normally filleted for these dishes; and the head and bones are used for making this amazing chorchori. This is one of the treasures (in my mum’s and my opinion) of the bengali cuisine which can be found only in the bengali households. And sometimes even in staff meals of bengali fine dine restaurants.
So here’s the recipe (my mum’s version) of this finger-licking-good-fish-dish. Have it for lunch with some steamed rice. Make sure that you don’t cook too many things along with it. You might land up overeating. Big time.
- Head and bones of 1 medium sized fish
- Onion (sliced) - 1 large
- Potatoes (cut into big chunks) - 2 medium sized
- Ginger-garlic paste - 1tsp
- Bay leaves - 2 small ones
- Green cardamom (tear open the pods) - 2 small ones
- Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
- Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
- Coriander powder - 1 1/2 tsp
- Green chillies (slit) - 2 nos
- Sugar - 1/2 tsp
- Mustard Oil
Add some turmeric powder and salt to the fish, mix well, leave aside for approx. 5 minutes, fry lightly and keep aside. Fry the potato chunks also, till they are golden in colour and keep aside.
Now temper bay leaves and green cardamom. Add onions and fry till they turn golden brown. Then add ginger-garlic paste and green chilies and sauté for a couple of minutes more.
At this point add sugar. Let the sugar caramelise and then add turmeric, red chilli and coriander powder. Add salt too, and sauté this masala till oil starts surfacing.
Now add fried potato chunks and fried fish. Toss them in the masala for 2-3 minutes. Then add some water. Let it come to a boil, cover the dish and let it simmer on a low flame. The idea is to let the potatoes get cooked in the flavour of the fish, onions and the spices.
Once the potatoes are cooked, turn off the flame and let the dish stand for sometime. Serve it with some hot steamed rice.