Ghata literally means to whirl; a process of cooking food articles, where they are vigorously stirred and crushed with a metal spatula (khunti) to transform them into a congenial mash.
Ghatas can also have vegetables added to them. The popular vegetables used for ghatas are aubergine, pui sak, kochu sak, jhingga, and potatoes. If using vegetables, introduce them after step # 4, and cook until they are soft enough to mash.
Ghoinna or Ghonia (Labeo gonius) is a bony fish, difficult even for the discerning Bengalis to handle safely. Chosen for its fatty flesh, they are first de-boned and then cooked with spice and/or other vegetables. Ghoinna makes a tasty shutki (fermented dry fish) where the bones disintegrate to manageable suppleness during the fermenting process.
This is a basic 'ghata' recipe
1 kg Ghonia Fish
2 tbsp and 2 tbsp mustard oil
3 onions, chopped
3 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp red chilli powder
10 green chillies, chopped
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
Gut the fish and cut into halves, shallow fry them in 2 tablespoons oil on both sides, to crisp, drain, and cool. Retain oil. As soon as the fish halves are cool enough to handle, break the flesh with your fingers. Take out all the bones and discard them.
In a small bowl, blend the following: garlic, red chilli powder, turmetic and ½ cup water. Set spice mixture aside.
To the residual oil, add a further 2 tablespoons oil. Lob in the onions and sauté until translucent. Pour in the spice mixture and sauté stirring frequently until they release their flavour.
Then add the following: flaked fish, green chilli, salt and cilantro. Mix up and cook to heat through.
Note: Other fishes good for ghatas are -- Puya (pony fish), Bele, Gugri, Chola Puti, Kholsa, and Lakkha.
Pangas (Pangasius pangasius) is a large catfish of the big rivers, favoured for its soft and succulent oily white flesh. The recipe uses proportionately more spice than conventionally used in 'deshi' fish preparations. It also contains quartered onions added towards the end of the cooking. This recipe is ideal to cook any type of fish, either with a strong odour or too bland. Particularly those fishes are used, that are not desirable for the 'jhol' or 'jhaal' preparation. However, the recipe also gives delectable results with delicate fishes and prawns.
1kg Pangas mach, fillets
4 tbsp mustard oil
10 dry red chillies
2 onions, sliced
4 tsp garlic paste
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp and 1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
2 tbsp cumin powder
10 green chillies, slit
1 cup cilantro, chopped
3 tsp salt
10 red onions, quartered
In a mixing bowl, combine the following: red chilli powder, 1 teaspoon turmeric, coriander, cumin, and 2 tablespoons water. Set spice mixture aside.
Rub the fish filllets all over, with 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a korai/wok, toss in the dry red chillies, sauté until they change a shade darker. Using a slotted spoon, strain chillies out, set aside.
In the residual oil; lob in the sliced onions, sauté until pale brown. Strain out the onions (baresta) with a slotted spoon and reserve.
In the remaining fat, stir in the ginger paste, sauté for a minute stirring all the time, then pour in the spice mixture. Cook until spice releases its aroma.
Add: garlic, 2 cups water, swirl to dissolve the spice. Cook until the gravy is reduced to half its volume.
Slide in the fish fillets and then add the following: green chillies, baresta, and salt. Stir to mix.
Lower the flame, and lead it to a gentle simmer. Cook turning the fillets frequently until the spice thickens and the oil starts to separate from the gravy.
Chuck in the quartered onions, sprinkle with cilantro and cover with a lid. Cook for 2 minutes. Shake korai/wok frequently to keep spices from catching the korai/wok. Serve the fish with the fried red chillies crushed on top.
This recipe may also be used to cook the following fishes:
Gozar (Channa marulius): Great Snakehead, 183 cm, Occurs in sluggish or standing water in canals, lakes, and swamps. During rainy season enters the flooded paddy fields, to feed on fish, frogs, snakes insects, earthworms, small birds rodents, and tadpoles.
Taki (Channa punctata): Spotted Snakehead, 31.0cm. Found in ponds, swamps. ditches and 'beels.' They prefer to live in stagnant water of muddy streams and ponds. They are often placed in village water-well to gobble up the insect-larvae and tadpoles to keep the drinking water free of frogs and other insects.
Shol (Chianna striata): Snakehead Murrel, 100cm. Very abundant in 'beels',' haors', ponds, ditches and swamps throughout the country. Feeds on other fishes, frogs, snakes, insects, earthworms and tadpoles. Survives dry season by burrowing in bottom mud of lakes, canals, swamps and subsist on the stored fat. They can carry on living as long as their skin and air-breathing apparatus remain moist.
(All the above fishes have heavy dark skin, almost bone-free, firm white flesh, and stored body fat. They are all good for 'bhuna').