I woke up this morning feeling blue, so I really didn’t feel like cooking today. But, I, being a chronic rice eater wanted something easy to prepare to eat with my rice. Maas bhorta I decided, remembering there was a sea bass in the freezer. It was going to be simple: mix flaked, grilled fish with a few other ingredients to have my meal ready and just that simplicity of making maas bhorta seemed like utter brilliance. And it was, until I decided I’m going to make a blog post out of it and spent the afternoon taking pictures in between each step. Thus, by the end of it, which is now as I type this post, it doesn’t seem like a quick meal anymore. But none the less, still a very tasty meal.
Maas bhorta, is one of my abba’s (father’s) favourite dish and when ever Amma make’s it, he devours most of it even if the portion is for the whole family. It disappears very quickly. Amma makes her bhorta how I know it to be usually made amongst many other Sylheti people, which is to dry, pan-griddle Mackerel and the flake it once it’s cool, add dried red chillies which have been also toasted in a dry pan and then crushed, then mixed with salt, finely sliced onions and fresh coriander. That’s the usual method in my family. But sometimes the ingredients for maas bhorta are varied. For instance, if available Amma would definitely add fresh Mustard greens or lai fata as it’s called in Bengali, some people add Mustard oil to the mixture and others add certain ground spices.
Most of the ingredients are the same in my maas bhorta as is in my amma’s, but there are two significant changes in my recipe. Firstly, I use Sea Bass instead of Mackerel as I’m not fond of the latter and secondly, I put the fish under the grill instead of slowly griddling the fish in a dry pan that requires more time. Recently, I made my maas bhorta while I was staying at my mum’s and after tasting it, my abba decided he doesn’t want my amma to use Mackerel again to make maas bhorta. Only Sea Bass from now on!
- 300g Whole Sea Bass
- 30g Red Onion, finely sliced
- 10g Coriander, finely chopped
- 2g Dry red chillies
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- Pre-heat the grill on the highest setting.
- Place the fish on a grilling rack that's placed in a roasting tin and slide under the hot grill with three-four inches between the grill and the fish. Let the fish grill until the side's charred then turn over to grill the other side until it's charred as well. Ten minutes on each side approximately.
- Meanwhile, heat a shallow pan over medium heat and toast the dried chillies in the dry pan until black on all sides. A few minutes on each side.
- Once, the fish is grilled, let it cool and then flake while removing all bones. Then, crumble in the toasted chillies, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well to incorporate completely.
- If you don't have Dry Red chillies, you can always use a teaspoon or so of crushed red chilli flakes or even fresh green chillies.