shim bichi die shol mach / Broad beans seeds and Channa striata curry

12:51 AM

Boimela or Kolkata Bookfair is something that makes Calcuttans nostalgic. Though I see how the bookfair is losing charm with every passing year but for us who grew up before the internet started selling everything we still love that quintessential smell of hard bound books. I belong to those who believe books are your best companions. Be it Romantic novels, adventurous stories or travel diaries it keeps you enchanted and loose sense and experience things that you never dreamt of. 

Now visiting book fair is a must but this year with the ongoing exam of the son am not sure if we could make it. but let me share a recipe from a book that I got several years back. The book was being sold by an old man just outside the mela ground, mostly old tattered books and the one I chose was Bangaladeshi fish recipes. The two main ingredients were a very unusual combination for me, Broad bean seeds and Catfish. A combination that we never tried at home.

Shim bichi which is highly seasonal and is available for a few weeks in Winter. Preparing it a little painful as you need to boil it and then peel the waxy coating on each seed by hand. I prefer to do it while catching up with my favourite show on the TV. Maa used to make shim bichir Ghugni or just added them in mishmash of veggies. But this recipe is very unusual and I have made it a couple of times and it turned out really tasty. So here it is, a simple everyday dish prepared with a very few pantry staples.

Shim bichi die Shol mach
(serves 4 as a side dish)

Shol mach or Channa striata or any big fish from the catfish family: 4 pieces
Broad beans seeds: 1 cup
Onion: 1 medium
Garlic: 4-5 cloves
Red chili powder: 1/2 tsp
Tomato: 1 small
Green chilies: 4-5 or as per taste
Turmeric powder
oil (mustard or white oil): 3 tbsp

First, prepare the broad beans/ hyacinth beans seeds. Wash them under running water and boil them in water for 4-5 minutes. Wash again and when cool to handle peel the waxy skin.

Grind the onion and garlic to a smooth paste.
Smear salt and turmeric on the fish pieces, keep aside for 15 minutes.

Heat the oil and fry the fish pieces for 2 minutes on each side on medium flame. Take out.

In the same oil add the onion and garlic paste along with salt and chili powder. Cook on medium for 4-5 minutes till oil oozes out on the sides. Next, add the turmeric and chopped tomato. Cook again on low till the tomato is mixed through and oil starts to separate. Do not rush this step or the flavour won't be satisfied.

Now add the peeled seeds and mix. On low flame cover the pan and let it cook for 5 minutes. Then add a cup of water and the fish pieces. Mix, adjust seasoning and add the green chilies. I always add them slightly slit at the stem side for flavour. Cover and cook on medium for 6-8 minutes or till the gravy thickens and beans are cooked.

You can finish with some fresh coriander greens.
Serve hot with rice and other side dishes.

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