My Bong soul gets super happy whenever I head to the local Bangladeshi store for some much needed fish shopping.Usually its a monthly trip to get loaded with Pabda, Ilish, Rui-Katla,Tengra,Bata, Koi or even the occasional Chital Maachh(Spotted Featherback). The latter happens to be one of hubby's super favorites. While I am more of a fan of Chital Machher Peti, he prefers Muitha.Minced Chital marinated with ginger-garlic paste and seasoned with dry spices, and then formed into dumplings, which then form a part of a curry.Well, too much work, I feel. But sometimes, we go through the wild phases of cooking up a storm, and hence the Muithya gets made. Hubby had taken the first step, and picked up a box of minced Chital off the freezer at the store, while I was negotiating with the fish monger, as to how thick I wanted the Katla to be sliced.
My Dimma (maternal grandmother) was well known for her signature Chital Maachher Muitha, and I can still feel the taste on my tongue, if someone mentions Muitha. It was the quintessential East Bengali touch in her recipe which made it unparalleled. The soft dumplings, in the rich curry, was the perfect holiday staple. On the other hand, Hubby is in love with his mom's rendition of the same dish. Since there is no way of reaching out to my Dimma, quite reluctantly,I picked up the phone and dialed the cross-continental number. Given the fact, the salt and pepper relationship which we share, I was not too sure whether she would hand over the actual recipe to me. Following her recipe, I tried the prep work, and it was just then, I realised what had happened.She had conveniently forgotten to mention a simple step in the prep work for making the Muithas or Dumplings and I smiled a wry smile to myself. Washed my hands, and tried a trick which I had learnt from my Thamma(paternal grandmother), while she had been teaching me how to make Narkel Naru, during my teens. The trick worked. Finally I could mould the minced sticky fish into the Muithas.Well, while mixing the minced fish with ginger-garlic paste and dry spices, its important that our hands are oiled.Or else, the sticky fish cannot be moulded into the small dumplings. So I dipped my hand in some canola oil and mixed the marinade together along with some flour, and voila the dumplings were looking as they should look like. I had to re-oil my hands a few times, to complete the whole batch.


Minced Chital Fish: 1/2 lb
Ginger paste: 1 tsp for marination and 1tsp for the gravy
Garlic paste: 1 tsp for marination and 1 tsp for the gravy
All purpose Flour: 1/4 cup
Salt: to taste
Onion paste: 3 tbsp for the gravy
Chili Powder: According to heat preferences. I used 1/2 tsp for the marination of the Muithyas and 1 tsp for the gravy.
Coriander Powder: 1 tsp
Cumin Powder: 1/2 tsp
Turmeric Powder: 1 tsp: for the gravy
Canola Oil: 2 tbsp: for making the dumplings
Mustard Oil: 3 tbsp; for making the gravy
Tomato: 1 large: blended in the food processor.
Green Chilies: 2 to 3
Potato: 1 large: cubed

Thaw the minced Chital and then mix together ginger-garlic paste, salt, red chili powder and marinate for at least an hour.
Mix in the flour to the marinade, as a binder,and start forming small dumplings(small balls) by oiling your hands with some canola oil.The dumpling swell up once they are steamed in the curry, so do not make them bigger than a narkel naru. 
 Make sure that you oil the plate in which you are keeping the Muithas, or else they will stick to the plate. This prep stage can be done a day in advance. The Muithas once formed, can be covered with cling film, and kept in the refrigerator for a day or overnight.
Now for the gravy, heat mustard oil in a pan, and add the onion paste, ginger-garlic paste and longitudinally slit green chilies.Cook it for some time till the onion starts to change its colour.Add in the turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, salt, tomato paste and cook on medium heat for around 3 minutes, by stirring frequently.
Once you can see around the edges of the pan, then add in a cup of hot water, and stir well. Cover and cook till the gravy starts to form. Slowly introduce the Muithas and the cubed potatoes in the simmering gravy. You can skip the potatoes if you want to. I did not pre-cook the Muithyas in boiling water before introducing them into the gravy.
 Cover and cook for around 10 minutes,so that the Muithyas can get steamed within the  gravy. Muithas should have swollen up a bit in size and should have taken on the colour of the gravy. Check for the done-ness of the potatoes. The Gravy should have also thickened a bit by now.
If the potatoes get cooked, then the Muithas should get cooked by that time. The Muithas usually develop some slight cracks on them, which just reveals that they have been cooked well. Just to be sure, take out one dumpling, and cut it in half with a knife. If the interior looks cooked, then its done.Do a taste test of the gravy.   Reduce the gravy,once the Muithyas have been cooked, so that the gravy is not watery. The gravy should be thick in consistency but not too dry, as the Muithas will be absorbing a lot of the gravy, once the heat has been turned off. Serve hot with steamed Basmati rice.

Bon Appetit !

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