I realised tonight, that for all the grilled fish posts that I have done recently, there is no substitute to frying fish to get out of a funk.
I don't know if I have told you this before but the thought of a bad dinner makes me unhappy.
I came home this evening and saw the masala heavy, over-cooked cauliflower and ridiculously thick moong daal that our cook had made for dinner in the afternoon and sulked.
This is not what I had in mind for dinner. I had visions of my mother's crunchy fried cauliflower with kalo jeere (onion seeds) and a thin masoori (red lentils) daal with rice for dinner through the day.
That was not to be. In fact there wasn't even rice. There were rotis!
I fretted and fumed and snapped at the world at large and poor K bore the brunt of it. I must confess that I had not been in so petulant a mood for a while.
I went off for a late evening walk by the park. Hoping to let off some steam.
Visions of the thick spice smothered blow torched cauliflower and sludgy daal tormented me through every step that I took.
Suddenly I was the chubby spoilt, pampered, fussy, picky about his food, five year old that my mother had recently written about here.
The idea of a having a dinner which was so not what I wanted really upset me.
I came home. Sighed, silently went past K and went in for a shower.
K headed to the kitchen, took the daal out if the fridge and began working on it. She thinned the daal with some water. Added some salt and a liberal dose of ghee as she tried to salvage it for me in the micro.
Meanwhile I had a shower and then came into the kitchen.
I decided to make myself some rice.
Which is when something happened.
I took out the last piece of kaatla (carp) that I saw in the fridge, on a whim, and smeared it with salt, turmeric, chilli and cumin powders.
Then I bent down to get some chillies out of the fridge and I saw a cauliflower. Suddenly I decided to take the cauliflower out and roughly hacked a bit of it with a knife and washed the florets.
I then took two pans out and put them on the stove and turned on the gas.
I put some mustard oil in both pans.
When the oil became hot in both, I added a split green chilli in each.
When the chillies began to sizzle I slid the fish into one pan.
In the other pan I added some kalo jeere (Nigella seeds).
When these spluttered I tossed in the cauliflower and sprinkled a bit of turmeric, salt and red chilli powder and stirred the contents vigorously.
And tended to the fish in the other pan.
The fish was done and soon after so was the cauliflower.
As was the rice.
K said that the daal was ready.
I saw down to eat.
K had worked her magic on the daal and it was really tasty now. It was thinned to perfection. Salted right. Ghee kissed.
I made a note to teach our cook how to make daal properly when she next turns up at work.
The cauliflower had that crunch that I had dreamt of all day and the all so familiar Bengali flavour of kalo jeere.
The fried fish had that bit of fat in it and tasted like grilled fish never could hope to in a million years.
The dinner made me happy in a way I hadn't thought was possible earlier in the evening.
I realised that frying fish makes me happy.
So long Mad Men.