Friday, February 27, 2009

Spicy Fish Sticks

Schools in Pune organized “Fancy Fetes” as a means of raising much needed funds. My alma mater would raise more money in 3 days with a fete than it could with the meager alms received through ZP funding in a year. The maths for this was simple. Host a huge fair on the school grounds by asking students to contribute as well as sell raffle tickets and massive corporate sponsorships would fill the void. Parents would be asked to volunteer their services in supervising the student run stalls of games or refreshments. For a college student, the most important part of going to a school fete was the large collection of young women and supporting schools was as far from anyone’s mind as could be. Besides the games including the large central hoopla and the obvious collection of pretty girls, my favourite part of these fetes were the stalls of home made foods run by parents. Delicious home ‘ishtyle’ food was presented in paper plates that were inevitably covered with grass or sand. One year, I came across a stall run by one of the parents that was selling fish and chips. Of course, besides the name, it had no resemblance to the actual beer battered British namesake. This one actually had some taste and packed a spicy Puneri punch. Every year after that, I tried looking for the fish and chips stall, but never saw it again. Maybe the woman had a special recipe that made it so delicious. Maybe it was the smell of the sand which was soaked to keep dust from rising or maybe it was being back at school to play with everyone you ever knew that made the fish taste so good. No matter how many seafood shacks I visit, I know I’ll never taste the same fish again, just as I know that I can never go back to school and play with the same friends again.

1 lb Halibut (or Pomfret) filet cut into sticks
1 tbsp fresh garlic paste
1/3 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Chili powder
1/3 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Lemon Juice
Salt to taste
2 cups Besan (Chickpea Flour)
Oil for deep frying

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients except fish and besan to create marinade.
Add a few teaspoons of water if necessary
Add fish sticks and mix thoroughly till the fish is covered with the marinade
Allow it to marinate for a few hours
Heat the oil in a wok
When oil is hot, reduce heat to medium
Dredge the fish sticks in besan
Deep fry till golden brown
Serve hot with a slice of lemon