I know I have been slow with my posts and might be even more slow in the coming few weeks. I am in India and have been traveling a lot, hence the absence. These days I am in Delhi at V’s parents’ place. Delhi has always been home for me. My high school was here, college was here and so was my masters. It feels great to be here- the traffic jams during rains, the millions of people here from all walks of life, the honking of cars, the malls with all my favorite brands, the dhabas and the amazingly delicious food that they serve- its an awesome feeling to be back here.
The other day my friend back in the States mailed me and was telling me about this article she was reading about Delhi and it talked about how many people there are here and it reminded me of this thing my mom told me. Recently, my sister-in-law met this Swedish lady who comes every year to cleanse her system in India. The lady is suffering from cancer and she comes to India for ayurvedic massages and spiritual healing. When my sister-in-law asked her what is it about India that attracts her, she replied- the people- there are so many of them here and it is just so entertaining to watch them. And that’s so true, there is never a dull moment in India. Even while traveling alone in an autorikshaw here, more likely than not the auto guy would put blaring Bollywood music for you, full of beats and a dull journey is made fun! Yes, there are potholes here, letches who make it hell for girls to travel alone, electricity and water issues and overly crowded streets, but once here, its all so magical- much more than just a land of snake charmers!
Coming back to food, I am sure the title would interest most of you. Well, when I say vegetarian fish, its not fish actually. Though lot of people do consider themselves vegetarian even if they eat fish. I know! isn’t a fish a meat too?? Well, I will leave that for the pure vegetarians to debate. The so called “fish” that I talk about here is basically, a short crust pastry dough that is stuffed with some vegetables and shaped like a fish. Its something my mom makes at parties and everyone raves about it- which says a lot because she tends to make 15 odd dishes at a party and if ones shines out in particular- it must be good (and it actually is!).
- 225 grams flour, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes
- 110 grams salted butter, cubed and refrigerated (if using unsalted add 1 tsp salt to the flour)
- ¼ cup cold water (plus a little more)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
- 4-5 green chillies, deseeded (add less if you don’t want it too spicy)
- 4-5 french beans, chopped finely
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
- ½ cup spring onions (use both white and green part)
- 1 cup cabbage, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp ketchup
- Salt and pepper, to taste (I add about 1.5-2 tsp salt, and about the same amount of pepper)
- 2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp mint, finely chopped
- 1 tsp vinegar
- A few cloves for the eyes of the fish
- Chop all the vegetables and keep aside.
- With a pastry blender or in a food processor or using your hands, mix the butter and flour together till you get pea-sized crumbs. Add the ice cold water and make the dough come together. Do not work the dough too much. If required add more cold water, a tablespoon at a time. It should just come together. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Take out and shape as explained below.
- While, the dough is being chilled make the filling. In a skillet, heat oil. Add ginger and garlic paste and sauté for few seconds. Add the onions and sauté till translucent. Add chillies, ginger, beans, carrot, bell pepper, spring onions, cabbage and ketchup. Cook till tender. Add salt, pepper and the coriander and mint. Add in the vinegar. Remove from flame and let cool completely before filling.
- For making the Vegetarian fish:Step 1:Roll out a golf sized ball in an oval shape as shown. Keep flipping it as you roll out, so that the bottom doesn’t stick to the work surface.Step 2: Once rolled out, add about 3-4 tablespoon of the filling in the center. Flatten the filling to make an oval in the center (as shown). Step 3: With a sharp knife, cut the dough in thin slants as shown. Step 4: Starting from the left side, flip the cut side over the filling. Then flip the right side dough flap over the left side side dough flap. Repeat with the remaining flaps to make them look like the scales of the fish. Repeat till the filling is entirely covered. Put a clove on the top of the fish to look like an eye. Step 5: Once shaped place the “fish” on a baking sheet. This is the time you could place the baking dish covered with plastic wrap in the fridge till ready to bake. You could also half-bake it and keep it in the fridge, and once ready to serve reheat at 200 C/400F for 15 minutes. As for baking the fish, I am sorry for giving you a very vague idea of the temperature as the oven that we used was new and there were a lot of changing in the temperature. I would suggest baking the fish at 350 F for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Will update the temperature once I get the actual setting right (or once I ask my mom about the temperature settings). *UPDATE*: I now bake the “fish” pie at 450F for 30 minutes or till brown.
- To serve, place fish over lettuce leaves and cut the fish in thirds or fourths, depending on how big your fish is.