mostly about food and cooking, but also the stories about the Bread and the Butterflies!

Dried Fish!

In Chutneys, on the side, south Indian, Under 30 min! on July 15, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Kashmiris have hogaad, (ho- from hoakh – dry, and gaad – fish), tiny dried fish that are cooked with vegetable or greens to up the nutrient quotient, or simply fried in oil to a crisp and served on the side. My mother would add tiny amounts of hogaad to the bags of other foodstuff we would carry back to Delhi from what used to be annual summer visits to Srinagar. The hogaad was out of pure nostalgia I am sure. To my credit, I did taste it every time she cooked some. I wonder how I overcame the stink.

dried fish in Munnar

A year ago browsing around in the market in Munnar I saw piles and piles of all kind of dried fish and other sea creatures. I was struck by the same nostalgia. So I ended up buying a 100 grams of medium-sized dried fish. As you can tell, I cannot tell my fish. I only know big, small, medium or tiny. I gave some to my mother to cook, who is now a vegetarian. She cooked it out of love (and nostalgia) for me and my dad. My dad does not care for hogaad; never did. I tasted some of it and couldn’t figure out why we bother. I have been looking at my portion of dried fish in the jar…for awhile.

nasi goreng

I think the Far East uses it better than Kashmiris ever did. The idea of using stinky foods as flavouring agents works swell; it then provides the umami sensation without becoming unpalatable. Just like hing! I and the son loved the nasi lemak and mee goreng we tried in Malaysia; the garnish of fried dried anchovies was just perfect.

In the comments on the last post some of you gave suggestions for cooking with the dried fish and Goan sausage. Poornima’s simple recipe seemed like something that I could try right away and serve the visiting fish-loving sister-in-law. I will be trying out some others’ very soon. Thanks for the idea, Poornima! Aparna and I loved the fish sambal/chutney. To the credit of the fish, it didn’t stink at all when I fried it! TH and the rest, and I had a house-full, didn’t even get a whiff. They looked disbelievingly at what I was calling fish chutney! I picked Poornima’s concept and kept in mind the deep-frying Thai-Malaysian style of cooking. Here’s what I did:

fish chutney

Dried-fish Sambal

6-7 small dried fish (by the look of it, I might have used either dhandshi or bhobshi)
2 small red onions, sliced fine (about 1 cup)
4 green chillies, roughly ground
2 medium tomatoes, finely diced (about 1 cup or so)
1/4 C oil (you may use less if you are not planning to keep it for a long time)
2 t red chilli (cayenne pepper) powder
1 T jaggery (optional)

fish chutneySoak the dried fish in water for 5 min. Drain. Heat oil in a karahi. Fry the drained dried fish till brown and crisp. Remove and keep aside. To the hot oil add the sliced onions. Fry them, stirring constantly, till they are browned and well carmalised but not crisp. Add the ground green chillies and stir a further two minutes. Now add the chopped tomatoes and stir till the oil separates. Season with salt, red chilli powder, and jaggery. Remember there is some salt in the fish. Remove from heat. Pound the fried fish to a powder and add to the fried onion-tomato mix. Mix well.Β  A dash of vinegar won’t be amiss.Β  Or you may try adding some tamarind pulp to the mix while it is still cooking.Β  Serve with rice and coastal preparations of dal and veggies.

  1. Please to be sending one jar my way!

    If you keep this up, we will start expecting weekly posts from you. Which is a good thing. For us πŸ˜‰

    Come and get it!

    Get used to it; I am turning over a new leaf!

  2. I always thought it stank up the house. Anyway I never understood why mom bought the darned fish in the first place, given that we all did not like the taste or the smell of it.

    What, no nostalgia for you?!

  3. I am loving these fishy things more and more as time goes on… and this looks fantastic!

    Tell me what else I can do with the bunch that remain.

  4. Looks good enough to eat! Glad you liked the recipe.

    Thanks for the recipe, Poornima!

  5. And oh you have powdered the fish and added? For me the crunch of the fried crispy fish in the sambal, (it is called sambal),is the tastiest part. Must try your way now!! We get Japanese anchovies here which are almost white and smaller than the Indian ones. So they go really crispy when I fry them.

    I was wary of using it whole…but, at the same time I did like the fried anchovies garnish found all over Malaysia…Next time, I’ll try them whole!

  6. Hey πŸ™‚ I have been a long-time lurker. I like your posts and recipes too. The reason to de-lurk is to say ‘Thank You’ πŸ™‚

    Yesterday I searched the net for an Alu Wadi recipe and one of the links that came up was your blog. Since I knew the blog, I clicked on that link first. I made the Alu Wadi as per your instructions…and it turned out to be great πŸ™‚ So, Thank you very much ! πŸ™‚

    Oh, by the way, slicing the central rib of the leaf was a very good tip. Thanks πŸ™‚

    BTW, I am a Maharashtrian and yet had never made the Alu Wadis even once…and I’ve been married for a long time ! OK…no shocked expression please…I’m not very fond of cooking. I do try out a lot of different recipes and of course I cook everyday meals, but somehow Alu Wadi never featured on my menu so far. Finally it did yesterday and it was an instant hit. It is one of those dishes that I fondly call “fast to cook, good to eat” πŸ™‚

    Good to see you de-lurke, Wanderer! So you found this fast-work?! I amke it only on special occasions thinking it is a lot more work than usual! I think that is because for me the work begins with finisding the leaves… I should put some bulbs in the garden again so that I can have my own crop and take some work out of these!

  7. […] together are too many! A little bit of the strong smelling stuff, just like the hint of fish in this fish sambal, and you have a […]

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