(Lima) Beans and Delhi Cha(a)t

Friday, November 18, 2005

Of Fish, Chili, and a Little China in India

Lima has returned to these corners. With the irresistable Turron even! Yummy. Welcome back to your own blog, Cesar! (Sorry, couldn’t resist being a little mean, C).

Getting back to food in the earnest; this week I found the recipe for a simple-to-cook dish, which can be best described a spin off of Chinese cuisine. Sometime back, Cesar wrote about Chaufa rice and referred to the manner in which Chinese food got improvised in Peru. From talking to friends from different parts of the world, I have come to observe, that’s the deal with Chinese food. It has penetrated almost every corner of the globe, and nearly in all those corners it has taken on the flavour of the region, flexibly lending itself to the local eating and cooking ethos, and generating interesting if a bit distorted geographical variations. This to some extent explains why the dish I cooked, Chili Fish, is probably a brainchild of some Chinese cuisine loving Bengali. I mentioned earlier how fish and Bengal are inseparable.

However, Chinese association with Bengal goes back a long way. In the late 18th century, a Chinese called Young Atchew (what an interesting name—Young at-chew…) landed in the city of Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal. He wanted to try his luck at setting up a sugar mill in the city and even though he made an effort in that direction, he ran out of luck, mainly because of scarcity of funds and labourers deserting his enterprise. Three years later, Atchew died a disenchanted man and his tomb now serves as a pilgrimage site for Calcutta’s Chinese populace. However, the influx of the Chinese into the city did not stop. In the World War II years and later during the Chinese Revolution of 1949, a sizeable number of Chinese reached the shores of Bengal, and made it their home. Of the areas in Calcutta where they settled, no place bears the insignia of Chinese culture better than Tangra, situated in the eastern part of the city. Here, you will still find authentic vignettes of Chinese life, be it during traditional festivals like the Chinese New Year or in the many restaurants run by Chinese. Calcuttans love the cuisine and I know many Bengalis outside Calcutta, who while visiting the city, make it point to dine in an authentic Chinese food joint.

Little wonder then, that Chinese influence rubbed off on the Bengali palette and even made its mark on the local wok and griddle. My attempt at making Chili-fish paid off nicely, and for all fish lovers reading this, this is a recipe you must try, for its sheer ease of making. The good taste comes as a happy bonus though.

Chili Fish


* 500 g bhetki fish (bhetki machh)—This is a non-scaly sea fish. You could substitute it with Pomfret too.
* 1 onion, diced
* 1 green pepper, chopped into cubes
* 2 green chillies (You could use more, depending on your liking)
* 1 tbsp vinegar
* 3 tbsp Soya sauce
* 1 tbsp tomato sauce
* ¼ cup water
* Oil for frying
* Salt to taste


* Wash and cut fish into 2 inch pieces. Rub fish pieces with salt.
* Heat oil in a skillet. Add fishes and fry lightly. Caution: Since bhetki has no scales, the pieces tend to jump in the oil while you fry them. A tip is to put the fish pieces into the oil, lower the flame, cover the skillet and let the fish cook. Open the lid and keep turning the sides a few times. Once it’s lightly fried, keep the fish pieces aside.
* Add the diced onion to the same oil and fry till transparent.
* Add green chillies and green pepper. Stir fry for about 2-3 minutes.
* Add Soya sauce and water. Add tomato sauce, vinegar and salt.
* Add fish. Cover and cook for around 5 minutes until the gravy is thick.
* Serve hot with plain rice.

Once you get the ingredients together, making this dish is a matter of minutes. And the result is surprisingly yummy. Try and test (taste too) for yourself!


7 comment(s):

I am going to try the fish recipe this week..love seafood..but never made it with soya sauce and tomato sauce..will keep you posted..
btw nice blog sury.:):)going to add your blog link to mine..you could reciprocate if you want to .:):)

By Anonymous Sailu, at 8:24 PM  

Glad you decided to try this out, Sailu. You would enjoy it if you like Chinese flavour. Do let me know how it turns out :)

Thanks a ton for linking our blog to yours. We hope to update our links section soon, so will definitely put up your site on the list. It's one I visit a lot and I like the healthy food options you feature there.

Hope you keep visiting often.

By Anonymous Sury, at 11:47 PM  

my cook book updated At AnthonysKitchen

ur template is amazing.. I certain want to copy. Where do i get it???

By Anonymous tony, at 2:02 PM  

Glad you like the template, Anthony. Thanks for stopping by. If you look at the right hand sidebar, you'll see a link to Blogger Templates. Click on that page, scroll down and you should be able to spot this template. It's called Powell Street. It's the same place from where you got your new template. lol

Good day and keep visiting :)

By Anonymous Sury, at 2:10 PM  

sury,looks like you've got some real rapport with Sea food. Got the expertise,I'd say!

Nice pictures!Looking fwd to more such recipes!:)

By Anonymous Lera, at 7:41 AM  

Thanks for the kind words, Lera. To let you in on a secret, my rapport with the kitchen, let alone cooking of any kind, began just recently, only after I got addicted to hopping blogs such as yours. But I must admit, the switch to cooking has been very enjoyable, and so far the results have been more or less edible and even been appreciated by some kind souls who tasted them :P.

Thanks for dropping in. Yes, I'll post more recipes and pictures soon. So do keep checking in :)

By Anonymous Sury, at 8:46 AM  

double YUM...

By Anonymous mae, at 4:58 PM  

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