Machha Ghanta / Chhencheda / Chhincheda / Mudhi Ghanta

It has been a little bumpy ride for me for last 5-6 months. Sorry for not being active all this while. Now that I decided to move on and take my best stance forward, I am here again posting onto my favorite blogs. I have been staying out of Orissa for almost 2 decades now. But that taste and palate still intact and lingers quite frequently when I see anything similar. The other day a Bengali friend of mine invited home for dinner and served with some nice mouth watering “Muri Ghanto’ that’s when I decided to post the recipe of our own version of Machha Ghanta. This recipe is called by different names simultaneously. While I was a kid I remember getting lost in these multiple names to refer to this awesome mouth watering dish. While most of the time it is referred as Macchha Ghanta, it is also referred as Chhincheda / Chhencheda and a version with more lentils is referred as Mudhi Ghanta (This one is very close to its Bengali cousin).

Well I had earlier posted a recipe for a dish called “Ghanta (pronounced ghaa-nta). While you may refer this as a non-veg version of the same dish, the taste and smell varies drastically. For people not conversant with Oriya terms, Ghanta means ‘mixed’. Since these dishes are made of a mix of various types of vegetables, it may be named like that. Well some versions use a little bit of fried rice in the fish version of the dish. That’s probably why it is called “Mudhi Ghanta”. Mudhi being the puffed rice.

Well this dish used fish heads. Now you would be wondering how would you buy just heads. Yeah that’s really tricky. If you talk to some of the Oriyas, they will tell you how really this dish is scheduled in the household or in case of long Oriya Wedding functions. When you buy a whole fish and use it for some curry or things like that, you keep aside the head and few other pieces like tail which you could use later for Machha Ghanta / Chhincheda. In a wedding function type of environment it is also the similar scheduling that uses the head and tail pieces kept for some other day / meal than the main pieces.

It’s been a let of talking. Let’s get down to work and enjoy this aromatic tasteful great from Orissa.

  • 500 gram Fish (Usually head portions are used. This certainly adds to the flavor and taste. However, you could use other pieces. Again Rohu is the most preferred fish for this dish. Though you could try with Catla as well, I would not recommend altering this.)

  • 2 Large Potatoes (Peel and cut into large cubes)

  • 1 large Brinjal (Cut into large cubes)

  • 200 grams Pumpkin cut into large cubes (You can use squash if you don’t get yellow pumpkin)

  • 1 Medium sized tomato finely chopped

  • 2 Medium sized onions (Grind one to paste and chop the other one fine)

  • 4 tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste

  • Turmeric powder - 2 tsp (1 tsp to marinade the fish and 1 tsp for the curry)

  • 1 tsp Cumin seed

  • 2 tsp Turmeric powder

  • 2 Bay leaves

  • 4 Dry red chilies

  • Cooking oil

  • Salt to taste

  1. Add a tsp of salt and turmeric to the fish pieces. Keep it aside for 10-15 minutes. Then fry them in cooking oil. Ideally they are deep fried. Shallow frying or pan frying also works.

  2. Heat 5 tsp cooking oil in a pan.

  3. Add cumin seeds, bay leaf and dry chilies to crackle.

  4. Fry chopped onions till light brown.

  5. Add onion paste and ginger-garlic paste. Fry till oil starts to separate.

  6. Add chopped tomatoes & 1 tsp turmeric powder.

  7. Add all the chopped vegetables mentioned earlier.

  8. Sauté for about 10 minutes till the veggies are half done.

  9. Add about 3-4 cups of water and salt to taste. Let it boil for 5 minutes.

  10. Put the fried fish pieces into the boiling curry and cover the lip of the pan. On slow flame cook for about 10 minutes till the veggies are nice and soft.

  11. Sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon powder or Garam Masala.

  12. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leafs.

Serve hot with Rice and Dal. Enjoy !