A chilled mid-January morning, endi shawl draped around shoulders, mist forming, as I greet my father and neighbours in the front yard. Mother brings out hot black tea for everyone and I help her pour it out to everyone. The cup sends the cold numbness in my hands away as the warmth spreads. Munching on a til pitha, I look at my elders deal with the fishermen, who are selling freshly caught shrimps, rohu, borali (big cat fish); some are alive. My uncle arrives with a pair of pigeons in a bamboo cage attached to the handles on his bicycle.Today is Uruka and we clean the house to celebrate Magh Bihu (Makar Sankranti) the following day. My sister and I go to the pond right across the front yard with all the bedsheets, curtains bundled up to wash them. Young boys were clearing the area near the pond and chopping bamboo poles away for the meji and bonfire. A meji is a hut made of bamboo, thatch and straw, that is used as kitchen for the uruka bhoj (community feast of Magh bihu eve in Assam).By afternoon, with the meji ready, women from the neighbourhood gather in the temporary hut to start cooking for the feast. ‘Maasor tenga’ (sour fish curry), roasted ducks, pigeon meat with banana flower, chunga chawl (steamed sticky rice in bamboo pipes) are the main components of the menu. Maasor tenga with different fruits like lemon, outenga (elephant apple), amlakhi (gooseberry) is the most popular; from a little child to the oldest lady in the village, everyone loves it. My mom taught me how to make this savoury delicacy. To cook fish with amla is a very simple.
Amlakhi Fish Curry
Non-veg curry for two.
Preparation time: 10 min.
Cooking time: 20 min.
Fish- two small cut pieces of Rohu fish
Ripe gooseberry (amla) – 1 big
Potato- 1 boiled
Cooking oil- 1 tablespoon (mustard oil is preferred)
Salt as needed
Turmeric- ½ teaspoon
Maan dhania leaf (Thai coriander): 1 (in absence common coriander)
Mustard seed- ½ teaspoon
Marinate fish with little salt and turmeric. Keep for 10 minutes
Mash the boiled potato
Grate one ripe amla with a cheese grater
How to cook fish with amlakhi or amla:
Fry the pieces of fish in hot oil and keep aside on a plate
Pop mustard seeds in the remaining hot oil in the pan
Add one green chilli
As aroma comes add mashed potato
Add salt and turmeric as required amount
Mix with a spatula
Now add grated amla
Add water, cover the pan
Cook, let the bubbles come
Add fried fish and cover for 5-7 minutes
Switch off the gas
Add maan dhania leaf.
Slit longitudinally the other green chilli and add
Cover for 3 minutes, let flavour of dhania and green chilli arise
Serve hot this runny tangy fish curry hot with steamed rice.
Maan dhania or Thai-coriander enhances its flavour. In absence of maan dhania, chopped coriander can be used as required amount.