Lunch Scenes From An Assamese Winter Kitchen
Fish curry with farm fresh veggies. Photo: Gitika Saikia
Don’t we all just love the nip in the air? I, for one, eagerly wait for the cold months to make use of what nature offers us in terms of vegetables and food grains. Back home in Assam, it is the perfect time to sit out in the sun and enjoy citrusy fruits such as grapefruit and oranges, chopped and mixed with a dash of mustard oil, salt and green chillies. Ah...these are now just memories!
During those days, all my siblings would travel home from our hostels for our two-month long winter vacation. Get-togethers would be planned and stories exchanged. Amidst all this, we'd eagerly wait to hear about the day's lunch menu.
Lunch was always special as fresh vegetables would be picked from the kitchen garden and fish caught from the village pond. My mother would start prepping for the day's meal, which involved plucking vegetables right after breakfast! We would then help her clean and chop the freshly-harvested veggies while chatting and giggling away. The common vegetables grown in our kitchen garden are cauliflower, green peas, carrots, potatoes, spinach, mustard greens and coriander leaves among others. No wonder we didn’t see our father frequenting the market to buy vegetables during the cold months.
On one of those winter days, my mother once cooked a special fish curry using some of the organic vegetables. A lightly-spiced dish prepared with the day's catch along with cauliflower, green peas, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes. Today, I will share this simple to cook, yet delicious fish curry from my Assamese kitchen.
Recipe for fish curry with vegetables
8 pieces rohu or catla
1 medium size cauliflower
1 cup of green peas
2 carrots, slit
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
4 green chillies
A pinch of panch phoron
1. Marinate the fish with salt and turmeric.
2. Heat oil and fry the fish pieces lightly.
3. Using the same oil, throw in the panch phoron.
4. Fry the onions and ginger-garlic paste.
5. Add green chilies and chopped tomatoes.
6. Now add the remaining vegetables.
7. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
8. Add 2 cups of warm water and cover it with a lid.
9. Allow it to simmer for 10 minutes and then add the fried fish.
10. Turn off the gas after 5 minutes and avoid stirring as the fish might break.
11. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
12. Serve hot with a bowl of steamed rice and tomato chutney.