Fish Paturi is a traditional and famous fish item in West Bengal and Bangladesh. It is actually a steamed fish dish where the fish is marinated with spices and then wrapped inside a banana leaf and then steamed to perfection. The delectable taste of the dish comes from the poppy seeds and mustard flavours added during marination and the banana leaf wrapping makes the flavour unique. In a traditional Fish Paturi, the fish is either Hilsa or Bhetki (Kolkata Beckti), but you can use any fish. The paturi can be prepared in many ways. The recipe I had followed is simple and no oven or microwave oven is needed for it. I have used the Bhetki fish for the recipe provided below.
Approximately 1 hour
Approximately 35 – 40 minutes for 8-10 paturis
- Bhetki (Barramundi) Fish fillet – 700-800 Gms (8-10 pieces)
- Banana Leaves – 3-4 (if leaf is big) or 5-6 (if leaf is small)
- Yellow Mustard Seeds – 2 Tbsp
- Black Mustard Seeds – 4 Tbsp
- Poppy Seeds – 2 Tbsp
- Curd – ½ cup (125 ml)
- Grated Coconut – ½ cup (60 gms)
- Turmeric Powder – ½ Tbsp (for marinating the fish) + ½ Tsp (for gravy)
- Chilli Powder – 1 to 2 tsp
- Lime Juice – 1 Tbsp
- Mustard Oil – 3 Tbsp (for marination) + 1 Tbsp (for cooking)
- Salt – 1 Tbsp (for marinating the fish) + ½ Tsp (for gravy)
- Cotton thread for binding
- Full green chillies – 8-10 for garnishing
- Clean and wash the fish fillets well. Then put them in a pot or bowl.
- Put ½ Tbsp turmeric Powder, 1 Tbsp salt and 1 Tbsp lime juice on the fillets and rub them well on each fillet. This will help in removing the raw smell of the fish.
- Keep the fish in this condition for 30 minutes. Do not cover the bowl or pot. The opening helps the smell to go away.
- While the fish is getting marinated, make a paste of the two types of mustard seeds and poppy seeds. You can make a paste of all the seeds together, but I recommend you make a paste of the three separately. It will bring the flavour of each spices better. In case, it is not possible to get two types of mustard seeds, you can choose one type only also and adjust the amount accordingly.
- In a bowl, put the three pastes. Add ½ cup grated coconut. Then add 3 Tbsp mustard oil, ½ Tsp turmeric powder and ½ Tsp salt. Mix all of them together to make a smooth mixture. Please remember to be careful with the salt. We have already marinated the fish with salt, so putting extra salt in the gravy can impact the taste.
- Once the fish has been marinated for 30 minutes (as mentioned in Step 3), put them in the gravy. Please make sure that the fish is coated with the gravy completely and is completely merged in the gravy. Keep the fish in the gravy for 15-20 minutes.
- While awaiting for the fish to absorb the gravy, heat a pan or tawa. Take the banana leaves and place them on the pan or tawa for a few seconds. You will see that the colour of the leaves changed instantly. This step is needed so that the leaves do not break while making the parcel. If the banana leaves are big, then tear or cut them in smaller pieces in the size which can completely cover the fish from all sides.
- After 15-20 minutes (as in Step 6), it is time for the penultimate phase of the cooking. Take a spoon of the gravy and spread it in the middle of the banana leaf. Then place one piece of the fish on top of it. Put some more gravy on the fish. Finally, place one whole green chilli on top of the entire thing. Now, Wrap the banana leaf around the fish so that the entire fish with gravy is covered. Use the cotton thread to bind the wrapping. Once this is done, your first parcel is ready.
- Prepare all the other parcels in the same way.
- Put a pan or tawa on medium-low flame. Brush a little mustard oil on a pan or tawa well. Place the fish parcels (keep a little distance between the parcels). Place a lid on the pan or tawa. Let it cook for 8-10 minutes in that way. After 8-10 minutes, open the lid, turn the parcels on the opposite side, put the lid back on and let it cook again for 8 minutes. You will see that the banana leaves colours have been changing. This is an indication that the item is getting cooked. If your pan or tawa is not big, no issue. You just have to do it several times.
- After the last 8 minutes, take out the parcels and put them in a casserole to keep them warm. Serve them with rice or pulao.
Following this recipe will give you a juicy, tasty fish paturi. Try it yourself and let me know how it worked for you. Bon Appetit!!!
Also Read: Traditional Bengali Basanti Pulao Recipe
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