In the fish paturi recipe, the fish is slow-cooked inside a banana leaf packet with a mustard-poppyseed-coconut blend. The smoky and earthy flavors from the cooked banana leaves impart amazing flavors to the delicate fish making this bong dish truly delicious. And with some steamed rice, this fish paturi tastes heavenly!!!
WHAT IS FISH PATURI
The word paturi comes from the Bengali word ”Pata” meaning leaf. Since we wrap the marinated fish fillets in banana leaf packets and cook them, the dish is called fish paturi.
Traditionally, fish paturi is made with – Hilsa or, Ilish – a variety of fish very famous and loved in the south Asian continent. However, Hilsa isn’t that readily available in USA. So feel free to use any other fresh fish like, Bass, Tilapia or Trout. I have used Bass in this recipe.
The Paturi dish also works extremely well with shrimp.
The fish itself is marinated with spices, yogurt, and mustard oil and then cooked in the leaf with a some fresh chilies.
It’s a rather easy recipe once you have rounded up all the ingredients and it’s full of flavor.
THE USE OF BANANA LEAF IN THIS FISH PATURI DISH
In may states of India, banana leaves are used in cooking or serving food. Most of the Indian grocery stores carry banana leaves during Onam – a festival in southern part of India, when you are expected to eat traditional food served on banana leaves.
INGREDIENTS USED TO COOK THE FISH IN BANAN LEAVES
- Bass: I have used bass fish here. You can switch bass with trout or tilapia. I haven’t tried salmon yet but I think salmon will be too strong a flavor for this fish paturi recipe.
- Fresh banana leaves for wrapping. You can find banana leaves in Indian stores or Latin American and Asian markets, where they are sometimes sold fresh and can usually be found frozen as well. Substitute foil if you don’t have fresh banana leaves available.
- Mustard Seeds: I have used light brown mustard seeds.
- Poppy Seeds (white)
- Shredded Coconut (Fresh/Frozen): I have used frozen shredded coconut from Indian store. I thawed the coconut well before adding it to the blender.
- Yogurt: Yogurt helps toning down the strong taste of mustard seeds as well as adds some acidity to the dish.
- Mustard Oil: You have to used mustard oil to get that authentic taste. My go to brand of mustard oil is Dabur mustard oil. Available in all Indian grocery stores.
- Fresh Chilies
- Threads for fastening
HOW TO MAKE FISH PATURI – STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
STEP 1 – SOAK THE MUSTARD AND POPPY SEEDS
Soak the brown mustard seeds and white poppy seeds in room temperature water for an hour or two.
STEP 2 – PREPARE THE MARINADE
In blender or food processor, combine the mustard seeds, poppy seeds, coconut and chilies with as little waster possible. Puree until thoroughly combined and fairly smooth. The texture should be like a paste.
Add salt, yogurt and mustard oil.
STEP 2 – MARINATE THE FISH
Before you start marinating the fish, pat the fish fillets with a piece of paper towel. Its important that the fish fillets need to be dry.
Using your fingers coat the fish pieces well with the marinade and let it marinade for couple hours.
STEP 3 – BANANA LEAF WRAPPING
What you want to first do carefully is cut the banana leaves into about 30 – 40 cm (1 foot or a bit more) pieces.
Gently toast them on a pan set on medium heat. This will ensure that they don’t crack when folded. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place 1 fish fillet in the center of a banana leaf. Top off with some more of the paste. Add a green chili on top.
Fold the bottom edge of the leaf over the fish, fold in the sides over the fish, and then fold the package away from you to enclose the fish in the leaf. Using kitchen twine, tie the packet closed. Repeat with the remaining fillets and banana leaves.
If you find that your leaf is torn, wrap another layer of leaf around it.
Use a cotton string.
STEP 4 – COOK THE FISH
Arrange the banana leaf packets on the pan. Cover and cook on medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes on each side.
Transfer the banana leaf packets to individual plates and carefully open them. Serve
HOW TO EAT FISH PATURI
The best time to eat FISH PATURI is right off the steamer, while they are piping hot. However be a little careful opening the banana leaf as it will be very hot inside.
In east India – West Bengal & Odisha, fish paturi is enjoyed as a side dish and eaten primarily with some freshly cooked rice.
If you have basmati rice (recipe here), take a bite sized ball with your fingers, place it on top of the fish, and break off a piece and enjoy!
FREQUESNTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I grill the fish wrapped in banana leaves? Yes. The grilling gives the fish a beautiful smoky flavor,
Can I bake the banana leaf fish? Yes.
What fish should I use? Any mild fish will work wonderfully well.
Can I use any other masala other than mustard poppy seed paste? Yes, you can give it a Thai flair by making a paste of kafir lime, coconut milk and chilies. You can also add an Caribbean flavor by marinating the fish with coconut milk and jerk seasonings.
Yes, you can use a coconut-lime-cilantro paste. The flavors of coconut will give you that tropical taste.
- Use fresh banana leaves. If you really can’t find banana leaves, you can alternatively wrap your packets in foil.
- In order to make the banana leaves soft, so that you can fold them and wrap them, soften the banana leaves over an open flame.
- Use the freshest fish possible.
- The fillet has to be at least 2 to 2.5 cm thick.
Fish Paturi Recipe (Fish cooked in Banana Leaf)
- 1 Blender
- 4 Bass
- 3 Tbsp Brown mustard seeds.
- 2 Tbsp White poppy seeds.
- 2 Tbsp Grated coconut.
- 2 Green chilies
- Salt per your taste.
- 1 Tbsp Yogurt.
- 1 Tbsp Turmeric powder
- 4 Tbsp Mustard oil.
- Banana leaves cut into big squares
- 1/4 Cup Water.
Prepare the marinade
- Soak the mustard seeds and poppy seeds in water for 2 hours.
- Put them in a grinder along with grated coconut, and 2 green chilies. Grind to a thick and smooth paste.
- In a bowl take out that paste then adds turmeric powder, yogurt, and salt. Mix well. Then add the fish fillets, and massage well with the marinade. Then add the mustard oil.
- Refrigerate for couple hours.
Prepare the Banana leaf
- Dry roast the banana leaves squares for a minute. In this way, banana leaves will turn soft and you can easily fold them.
Make Banana leaf Pockets
- Place one leaf on a plate. Put one piece of marinated fishin the center along with 2 Tablespoons of marinade. Slit the remaining green chilies and put one half on top of the fish.
- First, fold the sides and then fold the upper and lower portion. It will become like an envelope. Tie the envelope with kitchen thread or that strings from the leaf. Or you can secure them with a toothpick also.
COOK THE FISH PATURI
- Heat 1 Tablespoon of mustard oil in a pan.
- Place 2 or 3 envelopes at a time on hot pan, cover and cook on medium flame for 5 minutes.
- Flip them to the other side and cook for 3 minutes on high flame.
- They will release a nice aroma, then take them out from pan. After serving discard the thread or string, open the envelope and enjoy with rice.