I am a "Bangal" Bengali and I have no fights with "Edeshio, Ghoti" Bengali. It is going over the head of many of my readers I know. Let me explain in short, The "Bangal" Bengalis migrated to West Bengal mainly, from East Bengal, now Bangladesh. Obviously there would be some differences in food habits and otherwise. Till our previous generation it was an issue.... though apparent, I found it very silly. I think we are already free from the tussle. Even if there is any, it is for fun, I hope. I am ok when someone says "tora to lota pata shobi khash", meaning you eat any stem, leaves or anything peeping out of the soil. I am not ok when someone says "lota pata manushe khai?".... meaning do / should humans eat all that grows on soil? Hurting the sentiments of others is never my cuppa, so I could never get along with certain people while the society demanded doing so. This soft, calm yet rigid untamed horse never really gave into society's definition of relationship. It is us who should orchestrate our own life, wherein articulation is a major part. If one cannot be respectful to others, I cannot lend my shoulder to them. Hence, I may not be a good example of society's definition of a good family person or otherwise. To many I am kind of nice more or less, some of them are showering me with sentimental posts since yesterday morning, getting into their skin, I could only justify their emotions. I felt let me go ahead today with this simple recipe of prawns cooked in a generous amount of tomatoes using very less spices.
Prawns / Shrimps are found in so many varieties and sizes in this island and they are.... oh so fresh! I remember those days back in the 90's when my sailor senior's ships were harboured in the island often. He used to say you know we had this big prawns or even bigger lobster at affordable price. By then price of prawn started soaring high in Kolkata, going out of reach for the middle class Bengalis. The very common fight between the Bangal and Ghoti is on prawns and hilsa.... the former is more into hilsa / shad and the later are more fond of chingri / prawn. I am that Bangal who loves both, hilsa little more..... a Bangal who drools over 'topshe masher pur bhaja'..... batter fried mango fish?.... I am that Bangal who can cook 'shorshe-narcol loti' ..... yam stems with mustard paste and coconut.... to shake hands with her Ghoti counter parts... and a very spicy 'begun-tomato shutki'.... dried fish with egg plant and tomato to kiss my Bangal friend.... not all Bangals are fond of dried fish though, majority are. I am that Bangal who loves adding tomato and coriander leaves to her dishes .... mind it tomato was 'bilati begun' .... foreign eggplant to us less than a century back.
Call me a true heart Bangal when I blog on 'loitta shutkir bhorta'.... dried bombay duck bharta.Till then I am half of it who loves to add little sugar in her vegetarian dishes [unlikey of Bangals], I thing adding little sugar specially in mixed-veggies enhances the taste. For now let us enjoy together doing a quick recipe with fresh shrimps / prawn with tomato. We will use very less spices here, hence we can call it healthy. Please do not go by the colour, the colour effect is for using a particular brand of chilli powder... which is rich in colour but not so hot. I do not always get my favourite Everest brand of Kashmiri Mirch here, I keep my alternatives ready. I have not fried the fish too, my mom and grand mom will not approve of it.... the later will say 'itan khaina'... we don't eat this way, but they have also not met old man Dr. Chang who always says, why you people fry the fish and drain away all the nutrients I do not understand. Our conversation... I love biryani.... me too Sir.... I love to eat... me too Sir... I love fish.... and a 'lifetime bond' is created.
Prawn / Shrimp : 500gm [medium sized, any variety]
Tomato : 2big
Garlic Clove : 2
Red Chilli Powder : 2tsp[I use Selvi's... not so hot, gives wonderful colour]
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1/2tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Bengali Panchphoron : 1/4tsp [a mix of fennel, cumin, nigella, fenugreek and wild celery seeds]
Lemon Juice : 2tbsp
Salt : As Required
Oil : 2tbsp
Do not discard the heads of the prawn, they add more taste to the curry. I have to do it because the son thing throws away. What I do is cut the heads into smaller pieces, add chopped onion, green chilli, coriander leaves, salt, turmeric, rice flour, gram flour, mix well and fry in oil. That he will eat. The world is not in a position to waste food.
As of now de shell and de vein the prawns. Wash thoroughly under running water. Marinate with lemon juice, some turmeric powder and salt. Keep aside for half an hour.
Wash the tomatoes and chop roughly. Peel the skin of the garlic cloves and wash. Blend them to a paste. Put through a strainer and collect the paste in a bowl. Add little water if you find it difficult.
Heat oil in a wok. Temper with panchphoron. Your kitchen will fill with an aroma, before I go offtrack again, let us add the tomato paste to it. Keep stirring till the oil separates from it. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric powders and the required amount of salt. Stir for a minute.
Drain the marinade and add the prawns. Stir and saute at low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 coffee mug of water and cover cook for 3-4 minutes. It is done.
Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy hot. Though not a fish, those who love it, they have it as a fish.... can we deny?