Article: Amrita Banerjee, Photography: Saugata Banerjee
Maach Bhaja is a part of daily menu in Bengal and some parts of Bihar and U.P. It is the simplest recipe of seafood lovers. Apart from quenching the fish thirst it is instant source of energy and essential oils.
While taking in the charming and alluring breeze of Bengal’s most popular seaside resort city, Digha, I fished out an unusual delicacy of the place. ‘Fish Fry’ sold on wheels. Not the British fish fry with bread crumbs but the everyday Bengali fish fry. In other words the mouth watering ‘ maach bhaja’, steak pieces of fish smeared with salt and turmeric and fried golden in smoking mustard oil, fried in a heavy bottom wok. Chingri (Shrimp), Pompret (Perciform), Topshe(Mango fish), Parshe (Boi Mullet), Khaira (Indian Oil Sardine), Illish (Hilsa) were some of the fishes known to me there. The best pick was fished out by the mobbers and gorged.
The best pick of the evening was ‘Topshe’ (Mango fish). It is a small fish having soft bones. The reason for its wide admiration was frying, in an extraordinary fashion. This fish is specially dipped in the batter of besan and egg and then deep fried. It goes well as a snack or with rice and dal and little bit of kasundi or mustard sauce.
Fried tiger prawns were the next hot stuff that the mobbers could vouch for. Though I favored pompret over all other fishes, but a bite into a crispy fried crab turned me on. And let me tell you they taste their absolute best when eaten sizzling hot right out of the deep fryer. But there is a proper method of eating fried hard shells. First chew off the batter crust then meticulously pick out every bit of succulent crabmeat, eating it as you pick.
So how about a trip to Bengal’s fishy abode? Where all you have to do is roll up your sleeves, screen out the best maach bhaja and get after it! No doubt about it, you’ll lick every one of your fingers for sure!
Digha is the nearest and most popular sea resort of West Bengal. It is mostly famous as a weekend destination for Bengalees. Digha has a low gradient with a shallow sand beach extending upto 7KM in length and has gentle rolling waves. Digha is 183 km from Kolkata/Howrah via Mecheda and 234 km via Kharagpur. This proximity has helped Digha to emerge as a popular weekend getaway. Digha is connected to Kolkata/Howrah by a highway and a rail-link via Tamluk. It lies in East Midnapore district and at the northern end of the Bay of Bengal. A new beach has been developed at New Digha which is about 2 km from the old beach.
Amrita and Saugata Banerjee, are a husband and wife duo whose common passion run into the world of food exploration. Amrita is a Special Educator by profession and a foodie by passion. Her cooking call came with her marriage two years back and she hasn’t stopped since. Saugata is a ‘Dream Chaser’ and an amazing photographer by profession. Cooking and experimenting with vegetables has become his hobby as well.