|At the fish market|
|The sun and the Talsari Sea Beach|
Durga Puja (Festival of Bengalis) is celebrated with much aplomb in Kolkata. However, the over crowded streets and stores made me yearn for some quiet. Keen to escape the pre puja hustle bustle all around I hit upon Talsari as a place to escape with my parents and Isha (my twenty two months) toddler. Internet search on the place revealed little. This I thought was significant as it meant that the place was not popular amongst tourists. I was right. We were the only guest in the Orissa Tourism Development Corporation’s Panthasala at Talasari (very close to West Begal and Orissa border in India) during the peak tourist season (we reached on 29th September). Going by train to Digha by Duronto and taking a cab to Talsari which is 8 kms away is the fastest and least arduous way of reaching Talsari which is around 200 Kms away from Kolkata.
|Gently swaying Casurina trees|
After a short morning walk the next day, I realized that there is not much to do here except eat, sleep and take walks. What more can a tired mother of a two year old want? Idyllic vacation. Little off the beach, there is a local whole sale market selling fresh fish. The best part for all fish lovers is that one can get both fresh water and sea fishes here. My father excitedly bought fresh topshe. Topshe is a sweet water fish. It has a central bone and not many bones. The flesh is tender and cooks very easily. Topshe maach bhaja ie, fried Topshe is a traditional Bengali way of preparing this fish. This we got fried golden brown in a batter of garbanzo flour in mustard oil. Few meals can compare with rice and lentil cooked together (Khichuri) accompanied by fresh fried fish.
My mother believes that this fish should be fried with few ingredients to retain it's distinctive flavor. Hence she avoids marination with ginger and garlic. This is her tried and tested way of preparing it and I can vouch it is simply delicious. However, this is different from Sutapa Ray's more elaborate topshe bhaja.
|Topshe fry, yummy!!!|
6 cleaned topshe fish
6 cleaned topshe fish
½ tablespoon Turmeric powder
lemon juice from ½ a lemon
Chickpea flour batter – 6 table spoons dissolved in water without such that there is no lumps
4 table spoon of chopped coriander
1 green chilli chopped finely
Salt to taste
Rub the fishes with turmeric and salt. Squeeze in half a lime and put in the coriander and green chilli and then keep them aside for an hour to marinate.
Now prepare the chickpea flour batter in water. Add ½ teaspoon salt in it. (Note that the batter should not be watery).
Heat oil in a wok or karai. When the oil is smoking, dip the fishes in the batter, coat evenly and fry to a golden brown on both sides.
This tasted delicious with khichuri.