While writing about my food memories yesterday, I had mentioned a recent ‘pomfret curry incident’. Here’s what happened.
I grew up in a vegetarian home. My parents never prevented my brother and me from eating non-vegetarian food, or bringing it home or even making it at home. But since my mother is a vegetarian, she never cooked non-vegetarian food except for 4-5 times in all these years. So I don’t have a natural grounding or inherent knowledge of preparing non-vegetarian food. I learnt by reading recipes on the Internet and then experimenting. My sister-in-law S, on the other hand, grew up in a non-vegetarian home.
So, one day, TH and I went browsing in a nearby shop that sells frozen foods and western foods. After much deliberation (what is Seer Fish ? What is King fish ? Would you like to eat prawns or fish ? etc. etc.), we finally bought a packet that read ‘Frozen Pomfret - Cleaned for your convenience’.
The next evening I had no rehearsals while TH had a play reading to attend. So, excitedly I suggested that I’d make pomfret curry and we could have a delicious dinner of pomfret curry with rice when he returned. I have a collection of recipes downloaded from the Internet. So I chose one, checked that I had all ingredients. The next morning, I removed the packet from the deep freezer and kept it in the refrigerator to defrost till I returned home from office in the evening.
When I returned from office in the evening, I enthusiastically started the preparations. I removed the packet of fish from the refrigerator and cut it open. I slid out the contents and to my immense horror, instead of fish filets, out popped three. whole. pomfrets. All looking up at me with their big round eyes ! I cannot begin to tell you how freaked out I was ! I froze for an indefinite amount of time. I just stood there, staring right back at them.
I wasn’t grossed out you see…I have de-vined prawns and removed chicken skin before…so that wasn’t the issue. But for the death of me I couldn’t figure out how to transform these three whole pomfrets into filets ! And those that were staring at me dispassionately.
Finally, after a thousand different thoughts such as, I’ll have to throw them away and what a waste of good money that is to how dare they write ‘cleaned for your convenience’ on a packet of obviously not-cleaned fish to who can I give these away to, it finally struck me that I ought to call S, my sister-in-law, the one who lives in the UK. Right, the one who lives in the UK ! But well, one’s got to do what one’s got to do. Spending some more money on salvaging the situation seemed like a better option than throwing away good food and wasting all that money.
So, here’s how the conversation with S went:
Me: Hi ! Are you busy ?
S: (With an apprehensive tone, since, calling India-UK won’t be done unless in a problem situation) No, not at all, tell me. What’s the matter ?
Me: (Trying to reassure) No, no, nothing’s the matter. I just had a small problem…
S: (Very supportive tone now) Sure, go ahead, tell me…
Me: (Very hesitant) Well…uh…actually…see, I bought this packet of frozen pomfret…and when I opened it, instead of filets, it had these pomfrets with eyes, looking at me…and I don’t know what to do now…
S: Very Loud Laughter
S: (Recovering from her mirth and in her best consoling voice) OK OK…don’t worry…I’ll tell you what to do…
And then, I held one pomfret in my hand and she, over the phone, gave me precise, step by step, detailed instructions on how to transform the pomfrets to filets and then resolved some (very basic, if I may add) queries of mine.
Later I just followed her instructions to the letter and used the filets I made, in the recipe I’d chosen. Thanks to her perfect instructions, thenceforth, the whole thing went off without incident.
So, that’s why that will always be the best pomfret curry I have made or tasted in my life :)