Saturday, March 2, 2013

Muri Ghonto - Fish Head cooked with Rice and Spices

I have never been fond of Fish at all, I know you will doubt the ‘Bengali’ in me as like all even I believe Bengalees without Fish is like Mona Lisa with her eyebrows..sorry that’s a bad one. Coming back to the recipe I am about to share is called ‘Muri Ghonto’ where Muri is a distorted form of Muro which means ‘Fish Head’ & Ghonto means a medley of various things. This preparation is of the Fish Head with fragrant Rice and various spices.

‘A’ is extremely fond of this dish and always referred to this whenever we spoke about his favourite dish right from our Courtship days. Then, I used to wonder how can someone eat fish head, it looks so gross .. those eyes just stare at you!! I have even known people who love to eat the eyes...eeks! .. I almost fainted when I heard that one.

My Mother and my Mother In Law both have made stupendous Muri Ghonto’s and have served it to me .. I have never been able to fathom anything beyond that fishy smell. After a little nibbling, I have always ended up not eating the dish. The Mothers finally gave up on me. I used the same recipe, but once, instead of cooking the final step of dish on the Gas, I tried doing it in my Microwave Oven and it tasted different and I liked it!! Since then whenever I prepare Muri Ghonto, I prepare in the Microwave Oven and savour it with great pleasure (though I still do not eat the eyes!)

Traditionally this recipe is prepared with Gobindo Bhog Rice which we do not get in all places; it is specific to West Bengal, India. This particular type of Rice has a beautiful aroma and is what we Bengalees use to make Khichuri, Payesh (Dessert) & to eat with Aloo Sheddho and Dim Sheddho (Boiled Potatoes and Eggs) with a generous amount of Ghee (Clarified Butter) – a meal every Bengali Child has grown up eating, especially before going to School! However, I make it with any variety of Basmati Rice I have at home as Gobindo Bhog is seldom available where I live.

Also, this preparation is generally made with Katla (Catla) Fish Head which is the most tasty of all Fish Heads we eat & trust me, we eat all kinds of Fish and their heads .. :P However, when you do not have Katla available, one can also use Rohu Fish head, it is not as tasteful but is definitely good. This dish is normally rich and heavy on the tummy, hence using Rohu over Katla just ensures a little less heaviness as well.

Here is what you will need to make Muri Ghonto

Katla / Rohu Fish Head – cut into two halves, cleaned
Basmati Rice / Gobindo Bhog Rice – 4 tbsp  - washed and soaked for 30 minutes – drained
Cinnamon – 1” stick roughly crushed
Green Cardamoms – 3-4 roughly crushed
Cloves – 3-4 – roughly crushed
Bay Leaves – 2
Potatoes – 1 large – cubed, like shown in the picture
Onion – 2 medium – chopped
Tomato – 1 large – chopped
Green Chillies – 3-4 – to taste – chopped (I used 2 chopped and added 2 with the Ginger into the blender and formed a Ginger- Green Chilli Paste)
Ginger Paste – 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp – to taste
Salt to taste
Mustard Oil for frying / Use any other Oil if you do not have Mustard
Ghee / Clarified Butter – 1 tsp to drizzle n top of the final dish

How to make Muri Ghonto:

Smear Salt & Turmeric on the cleaned Fish Heads and set aside for 15 minutes

Wash and Soak the 4 tbsps of Rice for 30 minutes

Heat 2 tbsp of Oil in a non stick Pan till smoking, put a pinch of salt in the hot Oil (This prevents the hot Oil from splitting when you slide the Fish Head pieces in

Slide the Fish Heads in (Note: Slide not Drop, again to prevent the hot Oil from splitting all over you)

Fry the Fish head thoroughly on all sides, with the spatula break up the pieces slowly as we do not want 2 huge chunks of Fish head, we want smaller manageable pieces

Once done, you can put them on Kitchen towels for excess Oil to get soaked (I didn't) and set aside

In the same Oil, add the cubed Potatoes and fry them till golden, set aside

Add a little more Oil if needed, add bay leaves and the whole spices – Cinnamon, Cardamom and Cloves – let them sizzle

Add the chopped Onion and Green Chillies and fry till the Onions turn a little translucent

Add the Ginger paste and cook till the Ginger is not raw any more

Add the chopped Tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes

Add the Turmeric Powder, Red Chilli Powder, Cumin Powder, Salt and mix

Cook till the spices are done and add the fried Potatoes and drained Rice & most importantly the fried Fish Head pieces and mix well

From here, normally, water is added and the dish is cooked till the Rice is done, this is a dry preparation, so it is made sure most of the liquid has evaporated before the stove is turned off. But I always mess up when I make Rice on the Stove, it normally always gets overcooked, as a result of which the dish becomes a little soggy which I do not like

What I do from here is, transfer the contents to a Microwave safe dish, add water as much as required for your Rice to cook – normally it is double the quantity of Rice, I added half a cup more as the Potatoes had to cook as well – use your measurements a little while adding water – cover with a Cling Film – prick the Cling Film at places for the vapour to escape – put it in the Microwave and cook for 20-25 minutes – once done, let it stand for another 10 minutes  - uncover the Cling Film and Voila! The most modern version of the traditional Muri Ghonto is ready!

Drizzle the Clarified Butter on top and serve with Plain White Steamed Rice. My Mum normally serves ‘A’ more Muri Ghonto than plain Rice when she makes it. This is called pure unadulterated ‘Jamai Aador’  (love for Son-In-Law) in Bengali :D 

1 comment:

  1. Hey Hi. I made this mid week. Ate up a lot more than I intended. Though this derailed my plan(i am on my way to losing a lot of weight),i just love the recipe. With a few tweaks,i can eat it well within my diet.

    P.S-The leftover tastes legendary. Also my first comment here. Cheers