I had a Bengali lady who worked for me for many years. Some time she would share her village stories with me. They did not have bathrooms at their place in the village so they all had to bathe in the river. On the way to the river they had to cross small streams. They use to carry gamcha (that is a cloth to wipe the body after bath). As they lack money... while on the way back home the village ladies usually use their gamcha to catch small varieties of fishes from the streams. One of the fish is called Punti Maach. They are called the swamp barb or chola barb or Puntius chola, in English. They are tropical freshwater fish. They are mainly found in streams, rivers, swamps and shallow water. Since my maid lacked money, normally they would cook this small fish with potatoes and onions, either season with panch phoran and make jhal (spicy gravy) or season with nigella seeds to make Chorchori adding some vegetables of the season which grew in the nearby fields. Another dish which is made is Punti Maacher tak. The dishes were served with hot steaming boiled rice.
I found this fish being sold by a local fisher woman after a very long time which was caught from the nearby river. It was a task cleaning this fish, but the end result was delicious.
* 500gm Punti fish cleaned and marinated with 1 tsp Turmeric powder and Salt
* 1 big size Onion chopped
* 3 big size Potatoes cut into wedges
* 1 big size Tomato cut into wedges
* 250 grams medium size Brinjal cut into wedges
* 4 Green Chillies slit
* Few Coriander leaves chopped for garnishing (optional)
* 1 tsp Ginger paste
* 1 tbsp Mustard paste
* 1 tsp Cumin powder
* 1 tsp Turmeric powder
* 1 tsp Chilli powder
* Salt to taste
* 1 tsp Nigella seeds
* 1/2 cup + 1/2 tsp Mustard Oil
Take a wok, add 1/2 cup oil. Fry the punti maach in batches till golden brown in colour. Remove and keep it aside. In the the same oil add the nigella seeds and let it crackle. Add the green chillies, onion, potatoes, brinjal and tomatoes. Stir fry the vegetables for 2 minutes. Add the salt, turmeric, cumin powder, chilli powder, ginger and mustard paste. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of water, stir and cover the wok. Let it cook on medium heat until the vegetables are tender and the gravy has almost dried up. Open the lid and check the vegetables. Add the puti mach and continue to cook for a minute. Drizzle with 1/2 tsp of Mustard Oil. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with steamed rice.