Sunday, December 26, 2010

Maachher Paturi - Fished cooked in Banana leaf, Bengali style

Good friend Zehra has been after me for quite a while now… her sister in the US of A wants the recipe for Maachher paturi…fish cooked in Banana leaf, Bengali style. Actually this sister of hers, I am told is quite a connoisseur of food, loves to try recipes from all over the world, and has nowset her mind on the Bengali version of Patrani Machchi ( fish cooked in any large leaf, preferably colocasia, is a famous Gujarati, or more specifically Kachchi speciality).
She has asked me in October for the first time…28th October to be precise while we had taken the kids out on a Movie fare(We went to see Robot, by the way, and the children loved the larger than life portrayal of the phenomenal Rajnikant, ). I told her, …but she called me up again after a week ..she has forgotten the recipe, you see, and her sister is mad at her…. how COULD she possibly forget the recipe ? So I promised to give it to her in writing, i.e. post it in my blog for the benefit of everyone. It has been almost a month now, I still haven’t made a Paturi…I am too lazy to go and search for a banana leaf, although I am pretty certain I would find some in any South Indian Store, but then…..
In the meanwhile she has asked me about 4 to 5 times, until yesterday, when she had her sis form the States on the other line.
Finally I had to visit the sec-9 market, where this Telegu vegetable seller keeps all Bengali veggies like mocha (banana flower), thor (stem of the banana plant), kolmi shaak, and all the so called English veggies like zuccini, chinese cabbage, pok choi, broccoli, bell peppers, etc etc. So I could finally get hold of some banana leaf and here goes the recipe of Maachher Paturi - Fish cooked in Banana leaf.
Fish cooked in Banana leaf (Maachher Paturi):
What you would need :
Fish pieces : medium sized, as many as you need
Mustard : 1 tsp for each fish piece
Coconut : grated, 2 tbsp per fish piece (ideally ½ a coconut is enough for 6 pieces)
Salt : to taste, 1 tsp should be enough for 6 pieces
Green chillies : 4
Banana leaf : 1
Mustard oil: 2 tsp for 6 pieces ( if you are not worried about calories, you can double the amount of oil, will have a rich body). You can substitute mustard oil with canola oil if you are not exposed to the overpowering smell of mustard oil)
Get medium sized slices of Rohu, or Katla or Trout , wash and keep aside.
Make a paste of rye, coconut, salt and green chillies.
Marinate the fish pieces in the paste along with a tsp of mustard oil for about half an hour. If you are in a hurry, even 15 mins are okay.
Wash and wipe the bana leaves clean and cut them into pieces so that each piece is enough to wrap each fish piece as we do to gift wrap. Lightly brush a little mustard oil on the inside of each leaf. Put a little of the marinade, put a fish piece, and coat it with some more marinade. Put 2 drops of mustard oil and wrap the leaf around the fish pieces. Tie the par

cels with thread all around and keep aside. Tie all the fish pieces into small parcels like this.

Now take a large vessel and fill it with water, and put it to flame. The water should be about 2 inches deep. Now take a tifing box, preferably one with a transparent top, and put the parcels side by side. If you have more, put a second layer, no problem. Now close the box tight, and put it in the boiling water. The box should be air tight, otherwise water might leak in. Close the lid of the bigger vessel and let the whole setup cook for 15 mins. Turn the burner off and allow it to remain as it is for another 10 mins. Open the vessels and let the whole house fill with the aroma of fish mixed with the aromas of banana leaf, coconut and mustard.
Ummm delicious! Right now, even as I write this piece, my whole house is filled with the aroma. I am going to serve the paturi with rice, sided with maachher matha diye bhaja mooger dal (roasted moong dal cooked with fish head), poshtor bora (khus khus fritters) and mochar ghonto (a Bengali side dish made with chopped banana flowers )

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Heavy Showers Driving the Rats Homeless ! 

Heavy Showers Driving the Rats Homeless ! 
It’s raining cats and dogs ...AND RATS  in Mumbai, and while monsoon was my favorite season all along my childhood, I am kind of fed up with this incessant downpours. Whoever has heard of a 125 mm rainfall in Mumbai, in September? I’m not too sure, but I think that’s a record of sorts. What say?

Now coming to think of it, it is surprising, why me, of all people have started to bother about the rains. It’s funny, but I am actually a person, who would prefer to walk my way down when it is pouring, along a path which I would travel in an auto rickshaw in a normal sunny day.  My colleagues stare scandalously  at me walking in completely drenched ( the little KC Paul ladies umbrella is no good, I tell you, in Mumbai rains) dripping profusely , and looking back sheepishly. Okay the real question in still unanswered –

Why have I started bothering about the rains?

The answer, my friends, is a seemingly insignificant, yet immensely powerful creation of God – A ROOF RAT!  Let me confess here, that although I am ready to take on anybody who dares to even suggest that women are in any way inferior to men, this is one area I readily concede defeat  - fear of rodents !   ...and reptiles…..and err…arthropods… and ...annelids… okay, most members of the animal kingdom. AND that categorically includes roof rats.
It so happened that a few days back my little son dutifully informed me about the presence of a Stuart Little in the house. The only difference was that this one was not at all willing to be friends with him. This small piece of innocent complaint was enough for me to spend a sleepless night and rush to the neighborhood Choudhury Medicals to get a pack of Mortien, first thing in the morning. After having placed the cubes at strategic locations, I trotted off happily to work, satisfied with the timely corrective action taken, and expecting a sparkling rodent-free home upon return.

(Wo)Man proposes…God disposes. Afternoon, am in the middle of an important report to be sent to a client urgently (TAT was yesterday, as usual) ….call from home.

“ Mamma! Stuart is sitting on the sofa….not moving!” I jolted out of my Standardization Report, jumping up, by reflex.
“ He must be dead !” I exclaimed “Don’t touch or go near it…give the phone to Laxmi Aunty”
Laxmi, my lifeline confirmed the bad news with an excitement matching that of Shubham’s. “But in the TV, they say Chuhe ise andar khakar ; Mare baahar jaakar  how could he just die inside ?  I blurted, as the choice of brand was particularly based on the tag-line.

“TV nahi dekha rahega”….was Laxmi’s wise observation. So true! Whatever happened to my common sense! Ofcourse, the Rat hadn’t watched the commercial !

Kaahani mein  twist! Even as my conversation with Laxmi proceeded, Mr. Stuart decided to move. He was alive, but drowsy, probably recovering from the effect of the rat killer. But while he was too lethargic to move, he was conscious enough to remember his basic lessons – offence is the best defense. As Laxmi with her moral responsibility, and Shubham with all the enthusiasm in the world tried to check its status (alive/ dead), it lashed out in defiance – This duet went on for a while till it was enough to scare the wits off poor Laxmi.  The details of each and every move and counter move of the rodent -who has now achieved Terrorist status – on the phone is no less exciting than a commentary of the last over of an Indo-Pak One dayer with a close finish.  

That was it – I decided. This is one of the few event which required some adult male intervention. And who better than the usual community helping hand - the watchman?  This situation can be classified as an EMERGENCY, and anyways I am not sending him to buy milk / bread (or beer bottles for that matter) from the neighborhood stores, I justified to myself.  

So, one phone calls, and enters – Watchman – The Superman, in the current scheme of things. Then onwards, things started moving fast. Mr. Watchman needed only one help from the duo – a plastic bag of 100 or more microns (of course he explained it in his own way, and Laxmi understood it in hers, and both implication and interpretation were correct). Laxmi brought a satisfactory bag in a matter of seconds- Now it was the final countdown. In half a second, Shubham’s Superman caught poor Stuart by the tail and tossed him inside the bag….to place him in the roadside drain. Curtains down, finally allowing me to put my phone down and concentrate on work.

A small bulletin from Shubham on reaching home in the evening – “Mamma, Stuart has 1 more brother, who is hiding in the commode in your Bathroom!”

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi Everybody!!

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