Treasures are those traditional recipes which flowed directly from generation to generation. Each family prizes the honour of such handful of recipes, so do I. Today I blog on food, I experiment dishes using various spices, sauces every day the hyper marts luring to us. But whatever it is or how may fancy dishes I cook, nothing can beat the taste of the dishes that I have tasted/learnt from my mother or grandmother or great grandmother. The usage of fewer spices was always the key ingredient at my grandmother’s house and the must usage of the freshly ground homemade spices. For me my maternal Grandmother, my Aunt who is much older than my mom and my mom are actually the culinary goddesses from whom I have learnt to cook pure Bengali dishes with the minimum ingredients. I have also learnt to enhance the taste by adding a dash of pure ghee in the dishes just before taking them off the flame. What is an authentic dish or what is the originality of the recipe, these are very controversial concept to me. Some dishes evolved somewhere then by twists and turns these have reached to our hands. Some have some documents some have not. But what exactly traditionally known to us are the recipes that we have learnt from our ancestors.
Aada BhaNga is one such dish that I have solely learnt from my mom's family and at the same time I also consider it as one of the signature dishes among the other inherited Bengali traditional recipes. My parents and their family originally are from East Bengal now known as Bangladesh. My grandmother was the daughter of the Sushong Rajbari, Bangladesh which was considered as to be the staunch Brahmin family. In their cooking there was never been any usage of garlic, onion and chicken. Only the red meat, that was also after offering to the god, was allowed to the kitchen. The meat used to be cooked without garlic and onion and the cooking style is/was widely known as Veg- meat curry. Coming to the Aada Bhanga recipe, I have seen this dish only cooked with the Ilish/ Hilsa head with the Brinjal/Eggplant at our home. But in Rajshahi. Bangladesh it is quite famously cooked with the Aar/Artamim/Sperata aor Fish blocks but the Brinjal and ginger are the common ingredients. In West Bengal this dish is also known as Tottora. So there must be many names, many ways to cook a dish. But here I will share the way how I have learnt from my grandmother and how I cook at my home. As the name suggests, Aada means Ginger and BaNga means to break. In this dish the main ingredients are the ample use of the ginger paste, Ilish/Hilsa fish head and brinjal/eggplant, where the incorporation of all enhance the taste and elevate the aroma. So here is the recipe:
Brinjal/Eggplant- 2 medium size
Ilish/Hilsa fish head - 1 medium (cut in to four halves)
Mustard Seed- 1/4 tea spoon
Ginger Paste- 1 table spoon heaped
Turmeric Powder- 1/8 tea spoon + 1/4 tea spoon
Salt as per taste
Green Chilli- 2-3 (more or less)
Mustard oil- 2 table spoons (+ 1 table spoon if required)
- Cut the Brinjal length wise one 3 inches long and 1 inch thick. Reserve.
- Rub the Ilish/Hilsa head with 1/8 tea spoon turmeric powder and salt.
- Heat oil in a Kadai/ Pan. The oil should be heated properly.
- Fry the both side of the Ilish/Hilsa head pieces till they turn semi brown.
- If there is enough oil remaining then don't add extra oil. Add extra oil only if needed.
- Add mustard seed and let them sputter. Add the Brinjal pieces and fold nicely along with the oil and the mustard seed. Keep on frying for couple of minutes and then cover it with a lid. And cook for 3-4 mints in a low flame.
- Take off the lid. Add salt and the turmeric powder, fold nicely so that each piece of brinjal gets seasoned. Again cover it with the lid and cook for 3-4 mnts.
- Take off the lid and add the Ilish/Hilsa Fish head pieces and break them in more small pieces with a turner. Along with the brinjal pieces too.
- The Birnjal will keep on getting soft and with the turner keep on stirring and folding all together nicely.
- As much dry you will make it the taste will enrich more. So keep on sautéing the stuff till it starts to leave a frying smell. Add the ginger paste and sauté nicely for 3- 4 mints. Let the aroma of the ginger spread with the frying smell of the brinjal and hilsa head.
- Add green chillies and then serve hot with white rice.