Fish with Mustard Greens/Lai Xaak-Assamese Cuisine

Laai xaak (as called commonly  by Assamese cusine)or “Mustard Greens ” in English is one of the most popular of all the green leaves and a delicacy too ,paired with pork or meat or on its own in Assam.

Although mustard greens is  popularized across the globe as part of oriental cusines and is available in Asian stores, yet back home in India , esp where my roots belong to, it is very commonly grown in the backyards of most households  in Assam . As it is, vegetables are mostly grown at home, I remember as a child when my parents used to grow all kinds vegetables at home, it was  a fascination to pluck them from your home grown garden and cook.It really was, esp the potatoes , carrots, ginger which are grown underneath the soil and you can actually dig up the soil , check how much they have grown and leave them covered again until fully grown..Those days ,these activities were a part of our play games as well, run around behind our parents , water the plants, dig them, pluck them .It was so fun.I still see that in my uncle when I go back home,Inspite of being working professionals parents would still manage to devote time to grow vegetable and plants at home.That is how life was then, fun and lively , brimming with physical activities with no laptops, no mobiles and gadgets to burden and destroy the natural tendency of pure fun and frolic.

Anyways before i use this as a disposal ground for narrating my childhood stories, let me come back to my lai xaak/ mustard greens. On its own ,stir fried version is the most common of all dishes, while with meat, pork or fish its a delicacy.Slight piquancy of the leaves leading to a exquisite and exclusive flavour.A hint of mustard is what you get and mixed with some raw mustard oil seals the taste.

Unfortunately this is not something that you get in the grocery stores of Mumbai, know not why though.While the shelves will be replete with exotic(so as they are called) veggies and fruits, yet these beautiful leafy greens are hard to find across any store. In fact “star fruit” which actually is a very common fruit in households in assam is found here under the “exotic fruits” in one of the leaidng hypermarkets.Really funny..  In that case  mustard leaves should also have been available albeit under teh so called “exotic items” like the way basil, thyme, lemon grass, rosemary chinese lettuce are stored. Nevertheless, the point is , because of the scarcity/shortage or non availibility that you may call in Mumbai,  there is always an irresistating tempation to savour this dish more and more and hence I ensure that when someone travels back from Guwahati, i get myself a good bunch of lai xaak to satiate my craze for lai xaak enriched dishes..This time i made chicken and fish. Am here with my first recipe which I managed to surprise myself actually, with the outstanding resultant of the taste .

Very different from the soy/cocoanut flavoured asian  style of cooking, which mostly uses them as stir fry along with meats or fishes, this one is almost like a curry that goes with plain steamed rice.Not oriental, but very East Indian culinary style.

Ingredients

Lai xaak(green mustard leaves)- few chopped
fish- rohu( 3 peices)
Mustard paste- 2 tbsp
water- as required
mustard oil- 1 tbsp
salt- as per desired taste
green chillies- 1 chopped
curd- 1 tsp(optional) although i havent used
mustard seeds- 1 tsp
nigella seeds-1/2 tsp
garlic paste- 1 tsp

Method:

 

  • Take the fish peices, marinate with salt, turmeric powder and lime juice and keep it aside for a few minutes
  • Fry the fish and keep it aside
  • Clean ,wash and cut the lai xaak
  • In a deep pan, add oil, when smoking hot, add mustard seeds and nigella seeds, green chillies
  • When they splutter , lower the flame and add the garlic paste and  mustard paste that which has been diluted with some water to make a thin batter.
  • Add  a little turmeric , salt and water if required
  • Cover it for a while
  • Open , add in the green leaves and fish peices and cover it again for about 6 to 7 minutes until done
  • You could also stir fry the leaves earlier in some oil and add it to the fish.Thats what i did
Absolutely gorgeous, with the mustard paste and the leaves this one will steal your heart if you love mustard and its piquancy, otherwise it could be an aquired taste that which will engulf your taste palate gradually.
The mustard, the leaves and a drizzle of the raw mustard oil is what the winning combo of this dish stands for. Perfect in taste, flavour and aroma, this goes best with plain rice. The leavs are not totally cooked and remains chewable which is the way it should be .It has a unique taste of its own and with mustard ,the roots from where it extends itself, it forms a classic taste.
Unified with the mustard taste, its unique and   delicious, this connotes pure eastern style of gastronomy delight.Not found anywhere else in the world, it can easily find its place on your dinner menu during any house events representing an Indian meal.

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