Monday, September 21, 2009

Story of "Chitol Machh er Gada" and the beautiful lady at CR Park fish market


The title of the article may seem bit strange. You may directly go to the Ingredient chapter below and ignore the Preamble.

One evening in the autumn of 1986 ( not summer of 42), I landed up at CR Park ( Delhi) fish market and I was delighted to see a long Gada piece of Chitol machh (as usual, the peti portion was sold out by then).

I told my fish vendor , Naren ( now gone after losing all money in satta and gambling) to cut 500 gms of Gada of Chitol in to pieces of 1.5 inch X 1 inch X 1 inch rectangular pcs with skin on.

I heard one whispering self- statement " Ishhh!!! Chitol Machh-er baro-ta bajie dilo ".

I looked aside and saw a beautiful lady in greenish " Tanga-eel sari" who made the statement.

When I looked towards her, she made one hasty remarks " Ami kichhu bolini" ( Thakur ghar-e key....ami kala khaini syndrome. ).

I said "Please don't bother so much. Actually we could not graduate beyond " Chitol Machher Muitha", which has been passed down from generation to generation, as if the Gada of Chitol was destined to become Muitha and nothing else."

"How these pieces will be cooked?". There was no sarcasm in her question, but a distinct inquisitiveness".

" I am going to try the recipe which my mother used to cook, and I will not eat Muitha , given a choice vis-a vis this recipe" . I said.

" Please Bolun-na"

I narrated the recipe and she reversed her Muitha order on a small portion and rest to continue with muitha cut".

" Naren, 250 gm Dada-r ( me) moton kato...baki ta Muitha hob-e".

As usual I visited the fish market everyday, late evening mainly to advise, (over a cup of tea ) how to make more money without cheating the customers.

When I narrated the recipe , her eyes were widening...( see below the recipe).

Next few days when I used to arrive at fish market to have a cup of tea with them, Naren would say " dada, ek Mohila roz apnar khoj korchhen..ektu ta-taDi asben".

Finally I met her one saturday evening and she was waiting for me.

" Dada, ki darun recipe..Apni amake Muithya-r hat theke bachiye chhen. Sabai, amar sasuDi porjonto, Chitol Maccher Gada-r jhal khete chae.. 10 minute e ready ..."

In 1993 when she came to know , I was an engineer and not a Chef in some hotel, she was amazed ..." Aj kei amar Husband ke bolte hobe CR Park-er sei recipe-wala kono chef noe..ekjon engineer.... asun-na ek din amar BaDi...du jone mile khub ranna kara jab-e". But luckily it did not materialize....otherwise I would have been exposed in front of an excellent woman, who was by far a better cook than me.

It was a nice relationship, exchanging recipes & short cuts to cooking etc and lasted till 2001 , when I vanished for 8 years, to Korea , Malyasia, Vietnam, Kuwait etc.

The other day the fish vendors told me, she had left Delhi long back ....

I am happy that I helped her getting rid of the Muitha cooking, which is not worth the effort you make....

But again " Even if you bring the top Mihi-dana maker from Bardhaman to Calcutta, after eating it the comment will be " Darun Mihi-Dana, kintu Bardhaman-er Mihidana-r moton hoeni..." so no matter how you cook the Chitol-gada..the comment will be " Bhalo hoechhe...kintu Muitha-r
moton taste hoe ni"..

So this recipe is for people who appreciate the unique taste of Chitol gada" no matter how it is cooked.

Happy cooking


  1. Chitol gada 8 piece, 40mm X 25 mm X 25 mm ( or any other size ). ( see Variation below)
  2. Red chili powder 3 level tsp ( Everst Tikha lal for people like me, for whom no chili is hot enough ( otherwise use less hot powder)
  3. Kalo Jeere 1 level tsp
  4. Mustard Oil 2 tbsp + 1 tsp.
  5. Green chili 4 whole with a slit
  6. Holud ( termaric powder) 1 heap tsp.
  7. Oil for frying fish ( the left over oil can be used under serial no 4 above.)
  8. Salt to taste

Marinate fish in 1 tsp Holud and 1 heap tsp salt for minimum 30 min. ( Holud and salt here is over and above what is given under ingredients above) .

Heat Mustrad Oil to smoking and sallow fry the fish under high heat to make them light brown to brown. ( This oil is not given above. The quantity of oil will depend upon , how you want to fry, all fish together or in batches, ..I would take 4 tbsp to fry in 2 batches.)

Keep the fried fish aside

Soak the red chili powder, Holud in 50 ml water for minimum 15 minutes.

Take a Kadai and Add 2 tbsp or more of Mustard Oil from the leftover oil and heat.
Give Kalo jeere and green chili sombora ( seasoning) and add the slurry of red chili powder and Holud.

Stir vigorously under moderate flame and fry the mix until the oil comes out and the aroma of fried red chili and Kalo jeere comes out . ( The end of frying can also be determined by smelling until you sneeze. Dont sneeze into the KaDai unless you are cooking for near and dear ones. If you do sneeze into the kaDai inadvertently , please ensure that no one has seen you)

Immediately add 150 ml ( 1 cup) of water to prevent burning of the chili.

Bring to boil and add the fried fish and 1 tsp raw mustard oil and salt.

Dry out the water under moderate heat so that the oil comes out and very little water remains.

Eat with rice. ( I have a good mind to try it as a snack with drinks)

1. If you are using extra hot chili powder, keep one hanki handy while eating...( not for people like me for whom no chili is significantly hot.)
2. Ensure that the chili is not burnt when frying after giving Sombora...if you are in doubt, put little water to quench and continue dry out. If the chili powder paste burns out, discard the batch and start afresh.


1. You may use any other fish of your choice , Rui, Tangra, Pabda, salmon, tuna, Makarel, sardines etc.
2. Some of my friends have tried, in addition, bit of garlic ginger paste. But I will prefer the unique aroma of fried red chili + kalo jeere for this dish.
3. You can use any other oil, Olive oil will be great too.

Tips on Chitol-Gada

Contrary to popular belief, it is much easier to eat Chitol gada than Ilish, Rui Gada. The bones of Chitol gada is very well organized , so it is easy to locate and remove during eating.

Happy Eating


Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

Mr Ghosh - those books are written by Shanti Samal. I am sure you will find a lot more typical recipes in her book than my blog...
Thanks for showing so much interest...

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Many thanks, actually I was planning to ask the name of MIL or the book before leaving for my dream place (orissa, Ravenshaw,Chandikhol, Athgarh, Angsupa lake etc) later in the year. I did not ask on your blog about the details of the book as I was seeking limited information.

Now that you have reached my blog, read the dahi BaDa episode ( the recipe is not important, but you can try the "chhunka" ( seasoning)
for Dahi BaDa or Dahi Baigana, Dahi Bhendi etc (Not Dahi Barandi).
please have a look on Nanda Devi blog....

sangeeta said...

read the whole story n going to cook it now......baro ta to baajbe ekkhuni...

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Sangeeta

Ha ha Thats a great one.
Baro ta Baj-be na...Just don't burn the lanka.
Moreover in Korea they consume kilograms of red chili because it is good for stomach , antioxidants, minerals etc ...Can you believe this...? But their chili less than the lowest grade chili available in India.
Happy landing

PS read my Vietnam days , you will enjoy it ....

sangeeta said...

first things first...i made it yesterday night n it was YUMMM...
lonka ta poralam na...ektu practice aachhe cooking jonno....ha ha..

i have a post on chillies in my ayurveda blog , check that out if you have time n interest.

all your comments on my blog are published n don't mind in whatever order you write n n whatever gyaaner kotha it's so very valuable for me....made me laugh actually...can you imagine a mother resuscitates her daughter after a coughing n breathlessness bout , comes to check her mail n starts laughing...the timing was so perfect..thankyou for that...

also i was laughing after reading the preamble of this post your himalaya blog n loved the pics it was late in the night when i was going through that , but i'll go through all the posts in detail n comment there..

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Sangeeta
I feel great that you liked it!! I guess most of my friends ( not from South) ran away after seeing the color and the description of Jhal standard. A kashmiri chili is equally good.
I think I should have put the Latin name of the chitol fish"

To be very frank, I burnt the lanka more often than not and secretly dumped and started all over. So I believe that what mistakes I do ( even repeatedly) others will also do and write accordingly. These are the hazards of being judgmental rather than logical.

Actually I had no doubt, that you will make a perfect landing.It is just to make the blog bit relaxing...and more over to pull some ones leg err I mean slightly pull some ones Khunti,KaDai or Tawa.

I feel good that my comments on the other blog and the Himalayan blog landed at the right time. After reading the other blog I can only say that you are not only a great
mom, great blogger but also... you fill it up...( I don't know).

Ok ,take your time to read other blogs particularly the Vietnam days. Dont mind the english, it is the effect of the book Catch 22 and known as Catch 22 language.

I shall read the chili matters on Ayurved blog soon. I had a plan to read that today, but time flew away at homealone!!

Bhalo theko

SGD said...

First time visitor and unlike you, I started from the top! ;))

Chitol Machher recipe dekhe pore phellam but Hyderabad e goto 2.5 yrs e chitol pai ni...hence I have to wait for my next kolkata trip to try out this recipe!!

Loved the 'Barota bajano' story!!!

Apnar blog follow korchhi!!

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear SGD
I am delighted to see you here. You can try any fish. The aroma of fried red chili paste with Kalo jeere as seasoning is the unique thing. In fact I use almost all kinds of fish like Rui, Tyangra, Pabda, Puti etc. It is a fast method so blends well with my Laziness too.

Latha said...

Lovely blog....interesting recipes...especially fish, many are new to me..will try sometime.

Poonam (Mamma) said...

Hi Ushish,
Very nice blog. I tried this recipe last night and it was AWESOME. Thanks.

C. Ram said...

Reads good, looks good - eager to try out tomorrow.

Poornima said...

Love your humour and recipes. This one was so awesome I have made it about 10 times so far!!!Thanks for making me smile!!!!