Monday, December 21, 2015

Mishagi Mudru/Stew Of Sarchochlamys pulcherrima

The leaves of Sarchochlamys pulcherrima known as mishagi in Dimasa
Sometimes I wish I lived closer to places where I could go a short distance and forage for some seasonal vegetables. Certain vegetables and fruits still taste best that way. But if wishes were horses...
However on our return from our recent trip we stopped at a place called Diyungmukh. It's midway between where I live and where I grew up. It's mostly agricultural land and the cultivation of sugar cane, sesame, and seasonal vegetables do extremely well there. It's also the place where two rivers, the Kopili and the Diyung (the longest river in my home district of Dima Hasao) meet. The confluence isn't far from the central area of this small town and as we went to check it out, I noticed these small trees growing on the banks.
It's been years since I have cooked/eaten the leaves of this plant. When we were young, we had a tree in our garden and my mother used to make a stew with the tender leaves, banana blossom and fish. Thinking of the dish, I plucked some leaves. A little foraging yielded enough for two meals.

The small trees grow near rivers and streams

The confluence: Diyung on the right and Kopili on the left

The stew is not photogenic.:) But the joy of cooking with an ingredient that is so important in our cuisine was enough for me. I had once planted it in my backyard but I think the soil was not suitable and it did not survive. This grows best in the wild. The Mising community of our state usually add the leaves to pork. The leaves are said to help in digestion and reduces the intestinal absorption of fat that generally exists in high proportion in pork.
Ingredients:
A bunch of mishagi
1 tender banana blossom, the white variety that grows in hilly areas
A few pieces of fish, shallow fried with a dash of turmeric and salt (Any kind of fish will do but I used singhi or Asian stinging catfish)
2 chillies, scored lengthwise, seeds left on
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp slivered ginger 

Method:
Remove the outer leaves of the banana blossom. Keep the more matured blossoms aside for fritters or any other recipe and take out the tender ones.  
Take a small bunch of mishagi and rub with both hands. Then twist and tear the bunch of leaves. The leaves are not cut but torn in this manner.
Wash and drain them.
Pour some water in a pan and put it on the flame. There should be enough water to cook the vegetables and only a bit of liquid should remain.
Add the banana blossom. Put in the chillies and season with salt.
Cook till the banana blossom is 3/4 done then add the greens.
Cook till the leaves wilt and turn soft. Add the shallow fried fish pieces.
Let it cook for 4-5 minutes after adding the fish.
Scatter the ground pepper and give it a gentle stir.
Take the pan off the heat and transfer to a serving dish.
Garnish the stew with slivers of fresh ginger. 
This goes best with steaming hot rice!
 
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