Aam Shol recipe Snakehead Murrel cooked with Raw mango

10:52 PM


...Barisha Kantak hin, amrojoge sholumin
khara lon ghana dia kati 
Randhilo Pankal Jhus, dia tentuler ros
kheer randhe jal dia bhati...
      -Atha Khullana'r Randhan Arambha
       Chandimangal Kabya
Bonik Khando



Am shol or Shol fish cooked with mango is a very old traditional dish of Bengal which even was referred in the 16th century Bengali Hindu religious text called Chandi Mongol Kavya. Chandi Mangal Kavya is one of the three important Mangal kavyas, the other two are Manasa Mangal Kavya and Dharma Mangal Kavya. Mangal Kavya which literally means Poems of Benediction were written in verses and for a long period of time these group of narratives were undocumented and narrated orally. Later in the Colonial era, they were written down by many poets like Mukundaram Chakraborty, Bijoy Gupta, Manik Dutta and many more.




The Mangal Kavyas told the stories of Indigenous Bengali deities to inspire people and to urge them to have faith in God and religion. It is believed that listening or reading to these poems brings in happiness and good fortune. But in the long run, they have been proven to be an important account of the socio-economic picture of Bengal in the middle ages. The stories that are narrated in these verses revolve around the daily lives of the common man. It portrays beliefs, rituals, customs and costumes of that time in details. Even social history and culinary art have been recounted elaborately to give us an idea of life in the medieval Bengal.

 The above verse is from the Banik khanda of Chandi Magal Kavya which describes the lives of Dhanapati and his wives, Lahana and Khullana. The lines here describe a scene where Khullana is preparing a feast of fifty dishes for the merchant guests. The cooking scene is vividly described by the poet as she cut the veggies, prepared the seafood and ground spices for the dishes. This particular piece tells us that she removed the bones from the Shol fish and cooked it with green mangoes. The salt she used is dried in the sun. She also cooked Pankal fish (Bengal Mud Eel) with tamarind and while cooking the rice pudding she increased the flame by adding a few more pieces of firewood. It is like a living montage of that time and makes us understand the society back then.

Cut to today here is my simple recipe of Aam Shol. The way maa would cook it. though to be honest after checking a few recipes online I was utterly confused and had to ask my friend Jolly about it. Her recipe reassured my faith in my memory. So here it is.

If you do not get Shol fish cook with any sweet water fish like Carp or Rohu. The flavors would be little different but the taste will be almost the same.

Aam Shol
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
Shol fish steaks: 4
Raw Mango: 1 large
Mustard paste: 3 tbsp
Turmeric
Salt as per taste
Panchforom: 1 tsp
Dry red chilies: 2
Mustard oil: 3 tbsp
Green chilies: 3-4

Method:
Wash the fish and marinate with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric, and 1/2 tsp mustard oil. Mix and keep aside for 15 minutes.
In the meantime remove the peel of the raw mango and cut in quarters through the stone. cut each piece in 1/2 again lengthwise. Wash and keep it in water.
Mix the mustard paste with 11/2 cups of water. Mix it well and keep aside.

Once you are ready to cook, heat the mustard oil in a heavy bottom kadhai or casserole dish. once the oil is smoking carefully place the fish pieces in it. Keep the heat at low. Cover as this will splatter a lot. Fry the fish pieces couple of minutes on each side. Since we are cooking them again in sour gravy do not fry them too much or it will harden and would taste like sawdust later. Take them out.

In the same oil add panchforon and dry chilies. Once they start to splutter and release the aroma add the mango pieces. With the heat kept at low cook it with salt and turmeric until they are soft and cooked through (5-6 minutes). Now mix the mustard paste and water again and drain the water from the top so that the black mustard husks are retained at the bottom. Taste and add more salt or turmeric if required. Bring it to a boil and add the fish. Add slit green chilies.

Cover and cook covered on medium heat. It will take 7-8 minutes for the gravy to thicken slightly. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. 

Serve hot with steamed rice.


A Homemaker's Notes:
This dish tastes particularly good with shol fish. If you dont get it try using any fish from the catfish family or even Rohu or Carp.

I our home we cook Macher tawk (check HERE) in the similar manner with Amchur. Please check HERE to see how our amchurs are made.




I often add Katoyar Danta (don't know it's english name), pumpkin or radish to this dish. 

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