Steamed Fish Chutney With Spring Onions & King Chilli

The title of this post is long but the effort it takes to make this chutney is minimal. Fish either steamed or roasted on hot coals is a favourite with Dimasas. Both small or large varieties of fish are used for this type of chutney. Roasted green chillies, salt, finely chopped onions and herbs of one’s choice go into the fish. it’s all mashed together to be eaten with rice as an accompaniment. 
Instead of using regular chillies, I used the hottest of them all. The King Chilli or Bhut Jolokia. Known as morshai gibbir in our language it translates to “mad chilli”. I have grown them before and the picture from the collage below is from a few years ago. Although they are widely available in our markets, my interest in them was rekindled on our recent visit to Nagaland. There the chillies are an essential ingredient in Naga cooking. Although it’s really hot it doesn’t cause a stomach upset unlike the bird’s eye chillies that are so abundant in our region. This site has more details about this chilli.

We got two packets of dried chillies that I have started using sparingly. I discard the seeds (sow them, rather) before I proceed with my cooking.

One of the joys of this season is using spring onions so lavishly in most of my dishes. The picture is from my shallow wooden container and harvesting started about a week ago.

The fish pieces, steaming in a colander and bones discarded.

4 pieces of fish, washed
1 King chilli, seeds discarded
Salt to taste
Half a teaspoon of thinly sliced ginger
A generous helping of chopped spring onions
A piece of banana leaf for steaming

Hold the banana leaf over the flame of the stove till it wilts. This will make it easier to make a packet.
Place the fish pieces on the leaf and add the chilli.
Fold the leaf on all sides till it forms a neat packet.
Put it in a colander. Place the colander on a pan of boiling water. Cover it. Take a strip of wet cloth long enough to seal the point where the pan meets the colander. Seal and tuck the end piece so that the strip stays intact. This is done so that the steam does not escape and the cooking is faster.
After twenty minutes or so (depending on your flame) remove the packet and let it cool.
Be careful while handling the chilli. 
Remove the bones and mash the fish with the back of a ladle.
Add all the other ingredients and mix well.
Transfer to a serving dish and decorate with spring onion flowers if you wish. 
This a lovely accompaniment to the main dishes of rice and curry.

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