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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sukhua Besara Tarkari

Its too early in the season for Pakhala. But I could not resist a quickie. And with no vegetables in the fridge last week, I got a good excuse for this one.

Yeah, its 'Sukhua' or dried fish. Very popular in all coastal areas on India (Odisha happens to be no exception), these are a boon when the vegetable supply dries up (especially in summers). And it so happens with us folks that we love it but are scared to own up. Blame it on the former's reputation as the poor man's food. Nothing that wannabes like us would like to be associated with. Aren't we the quintessential aspiring lot ?? Take heart people suffering from such a malaise, it is quite popularly used in cuisines from other countries ( including our favorite Chinese ).

If you are still on this page, I am sharing a simple recipe made with dried anchovies. Made with 'besara', the mustard-garlic paste that happens to be the mainstay of Oriya cuisine, it is a breeze to make. But do open the doors and the windows to let in some breeze while cooking it else your house might end up smelling like the neighboring  fish-market or 'maccha-haata' as we call it. Read on:

Preparation Time - 15 mins (plus 30 mins soaking time)

Ingredients -

  • Dried anchovies/smelt fish ( 1 cup )
  • Baby potatoes ( 1/2 cup )
  • pearl onions ( 1/3 cup )
  • 1 medium sized ripe tomato
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 green chillis
  • 8 garlic flakes
  • 1 ambula (dried mango,optional)
  • 2 tsp mustard oil
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Soak the dried fish in some warm water for 1 hour. At the same time soak the ambula in a separate cup with 1/2 cup warm water.

Wash and the cut the baby potatoes into half. Peel and cut the pearl onions into half. Finely chop the tomato.

Grind the mustard seeds with 1 green chilli and half of the garlic cloves into a fine paste.

Cooking - Smoke the fish on a wire mesh for the smokey flavour. Then soak it in water for 5-6 minutes.

Heat the oil in a wok. Add the broken green chilli and crushed garlic cloves. Fry for 1 minute.

Add the soaked anchovies. Fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add the baby potatoes.pearl onions and fry for another 2 minutes.

Add the mustard paste with 1 - 1 1/2 cups water, salt and turmeric. Cover with a lid and allow to cook till potatoes are half done. Add chopped tomatoes and cook covered till potatoes are 80 percent done.

Add the soaked ambula along with the water used for soaking. Allow to cook uncovered till most of the water evaporates and potatoes are done. Remove from flame.

Serve with 'pakhala' or white rice and dal. (If eating with pakhla, do not forget to serve some green chillis and onions)

The frugal ingredients and the final dish . If you have a taste for pungent food, this is a must try !!


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