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 )