Muri ghanto

In Malaysia and Singapore, fish head curry (Chinese and Indian roots) is a dish where the head of an Ikan Merah (red snapper, literally "Red fish"), is semi-stewed in a Kerala-style curry with assorted vegetables such as okra and brinjals and usually served with either rice or bread.

History

Origin : Southern India

Fish head curry or Muri Ghanto is an essential Bengali food item. Made with rice and fish head. The fish used generally is Rohu. It is a festive item in Bengali menu used in many occasion like Bhai Phota, Aiburo Bhaat and Saadh. The dish is prepared so that the rice is not completely cooked through, giving it a grany texture. This can easily be called paella of Bengal.

In Mithila, Odisha and Bengal (Bangladesh and West Bengal) where the staple is rice and fish, one very popular fish head curry is made with moog or ung beans but other vegetables can also be used. The gravy is very thick and very spicy and the Rui fish (Rohita) is most popular for this.

It is a dish of relative popularity amongst Malaysians and Singaporeans and their tourists, although it is generally not categorised as cheap hawker fare.

Modern Creation: Singapore

The origins of the modern dish began in Singapore, with a Singaporean's Malayalee (an Indian ethnic group from the Southern Indian Staee of Kerala community) chef wanting his South Indian-style food to cater to a wider clientele, notably Chinese customers who considered fish head a specialty. He prepared the dish differently by stewing the head of an ikan merah (red snapper fish) in a spicy-hot curry with vegetables, coming up with the sour-tasting tamarind flavour which became an unmistakable signature of this SIngaporean dish.

Today, restaurants of not only Indian, but Malay, Chinese and Peranakan association, serve variations of this dish. One can either have it with rice or as the Chinese do it - wipe the curry gravy clean with a soft bun. The sweetness of the dough helps to neutralize the spices in the curry - a great way to enjoy the dish even if you have a low tolerance for spice. The Chinese tend to have it alongside smaller dishes of vegetables and meat. The Indians likewise tend to eat it in a similar manner, having it with rice, pappadams and Indian pickle.

Preparations

A slightly varied version is also cooked in the Mithilanchal part of Bihar known as the Muri Ghanth. In this type a day-old fried head of any fish is used and it is cooked in pulses.

Tamarind (asam) juice is frequently added to the gravy to give it a sweet-sour taste (see asam fish); this variety of fish head curry normally has a thinner, orange gravy. Additionally, a relative amount of coconut milk is often used in the curry.

See also

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