For me, the only way to make a sorshe bata mach , the popular Bengali dish of fish in mustard paste, is by soaking and grinding a carefully balanced proportion of black and white sesame seeds. I didn’t mind going through this undeniably laborious task to extract the right flavours in this dish, which reminds me of home.
So naturally, I was reluctant to try a ready-made liquid masala . After all, how can snipping open a packet give the same creamy paste I get from grinding together green chilis, onion and ginger? Nevertheless, when Ceres Foods, with an aim to bring restaurant-style cooking into home kitchens, launched their mustard fish liquid masala, with a promise that even a newbie can get the same results as an experienced cook, I was intrigued.
Following the instructions, I took enough paste to make mustard fish for one person. (the entire packet is intended for 500 -750 gms of fish or any vegetarian substitute). In 15 minutes my curry was ready, and the results were fairly authentic, offering a freshness in flavour and pleasingly pungent punch of mustard.
Like many pandemic launches, this brand also aims to simplify and reduce cooking time for complex dishes. Their latest collection features the sorshe bata (mustard fish) I tried, as well as nalli nihari , laal maas and kosha mangsho . All you need to do is buy the main protein, (choose between meat, fish, paneer etc), add Ceres liquid masala and cook as per the instructions on the packaging. The company, which collaborates with chefs to create ready to cook curries, sauces, hot sauces and frozen snacks for Indian and Oriental cuisines also offers a wide range of oriental ‘Moi Soi’ sauces.
The founders of Ceres Foods – Deb Mukherjee, Jagmandeep Singh and Amit Mange also bring in their experience from the hospitality and food industries. As professionals who worked in the food and beverage industry, the trio decided to put their expertise together to create a product that makes cooking easy, but also assures consistent, authentic flavours with preservative-free blends made with natural ingredients.
He says, “We have spent a lot on research and development to get the right taste, which is also the reason for many restaurants opting to use the brand’s ready-made pastes.”
This is Ceres Foods’ (@ceres.foods on Instagram) first foray into liquid masala for domestic consumption. The blueprints for these dishes, however, have been honed over 10 years for the food and beverage industry.
Explaining the advantage of using a liquid masala over the more traditionally used powdered version, Deb says, “This saves preparation time. You also do not need to store all sorts of ingredients all round the year. Our liquid masalas have an easy process to follow that makes cooking easy, even in commercial kitchens in the absence of a speciality chef.” Ceres products canbe stored at room temperature (upto 35degreesCelsius) and comewith ashelf lifeof twelve months.
Deb adds, “The need for the liquid masalas for home came from our personal needs of being able to eat our favourite dish whenever we wanted at home. Since we are already catering to professional kitchens targeting the domestic market wasn’t a big challenge. “ He says they have started with the most popular liquid paste to test the market, and the response has encouraged them to think of more dishes.