Fish Paturi – the quick and easy way

Warm greetings to all my readers!

The festive season is in full swing for me – Navaratri, Durga Puja, Lakshmi Puja done and now Deepavali coming up! Oh wait! did I forget to mention Halloween for the two boys!

To me, this is the season for indulging the senses: the energetic music and movements of “dandiya”, the colours and textures of “sindur khela”, the lights of “diwali” and of course the most essential of all – taste of yummy food which we Bengalis so fondly call “pet pujo” (worship of the tummy!)

So I was feeling nostalgic and decided to make “Bhetki Maacher Paturi” (Steamed Bhetki Fish) which my mom prepares quite a lot. It takes me back to the time when we would all have casual Sunday meals together with my grandparents, siblings and parents. This dish reminds me more of those warm fuzzy golden moments more than anything else.

“Paturi” or parcels are so unique in its way; it’s not exactly a starter, like a fish fry, nor an entrée like fish curry, it is something we have in between! Oh yes!

It looks complicated and elaborate because of all the banana leaves, the strings and the un-wrapping, etc, but it’s really quick and easy to prepare.

I often make this delight, not only to bring the whole Bangaliana (Bengali-ness) into my household (where my kids have started speaking Singlish(!!!) and my husband loves his quinoa for dinner) but to get the exact taste when my Mom makes it! The effort is still on though on the second front…

Things needed:

  • 500 grams Seabass / Bhetki (any boneless fish fillet) or Hilsa (for the daring ones)
  • Black Mustard Seeds – 2 Tablespoons (soaked in little warm water for few mins)
  • Light Mustard Seeds – 1 Tablespoon (soaked in little warm water for few mins) – I didn’t have this
  • Freshly grated coconut – 3-4 tablespoons
  • 3-5 Green Chillies (adjust as per your taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • Mustard Oil – 2 Tablespoons
  • Banana Leaves
  • Threads or tooth picks for wrapping

How to make it:

Marinate the fish fillets with salt and let it tenderise for a while. In the meantime, grind the mustard seeds, green chillies with a tablespoon of mustard oil in a blender. Mix the paste well with the freshly grated coconut.

Now nicely rub the fillets with the thick marinade, add in rest of the oil and leave them for 30 minutes or more. This will make the fillets very juicy and soft once cooked.

Its important to wash the banana leaves well and then lightly roast them on the gas-oven top, this makes the leaves more bendable and less likely to tear when wrapped. Brush the leaves with mustard oil.

The banana leaves lend a fantastic taste and fragrance to the whole preparation, so this ingredient is necessary for the authentic ‘paturi’ taste – aluminium foil doesn’t cut it.

Gently place each fillet on the glossy side of the rectangle shaped leaves and tie into a parcel using threads or tooth-picks (as shown in the pic)

Pop in to the oven at 220 degs for 15 mins (time depending on the size of the fillets). This can also be steamed or pan-fried, if needed.

Serve hot with steamed rice or pulao.

Tip: For the sharp mustard-y flavour to stay intact for the meal, put the paturis in an air-tight container and do not take out the leaf wrapper until serving. Once opened the aroma goes away quickly. In Kolkata weddings, the leaf is tied around with string and it’s served on the plate with the leaf wrapping intact for the guest to untie and enjoy.

Loved sharing this simple recipe for the festive get-togethers. Do let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Till then,

Happy Diwali,

Rhea xx

23 Comments

  1. Sanjukta Maitra
    October 10, 2017 / 6:58 am

    You always write well but this particular one I felt was just beautifully written !! The writing had a festive feeling flowing in it, a feeling of happiness and wellbeing !! The recipe is quintessentially bengali and undoubtedly delicious always.
    A very happy Diwali to you and your husband and your adorable two boys !

    • October 10, 2017 / 7:08 am

      Hugs ! Wishes for the Diwali to you too!

  2. Suparna
    October 10, 2017 / 7:12 am

    Cannot wait to try this at home…. Really Rhea you write so well and each little things are mentioned in details which makes the recipes more easier… Thank you again for sharing such a delicious recipe…..

    • October 10, 2017 / 7:13 am

      You are most welcome and do send me photos once you recreate the dish !

  3. October 12, 2017 / 10:27 am

    This looks yummy and delicious…Cant wait to try this version of fish recipe this weekend..Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • October 14, 2017 / 3:44 am

      You are most welcome! do tag me if and when you make the dish! would love to know how you liked it.

  4. Anchal
    October 12, 2017 / 4:56 pm

    Seems to be a great recipe. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. October 13, 2017 / 6:04 pm

    I am a pure vegetarian so I may not be trying this dish. But I liked your writing style and the way you have mentioned all the little details supported by just perfect pictures. I am sure fish lovers will drool over this dish.

    • October 14, 2017 / 3:40 am

      Thank you for the lovely comment!

  6. October 14, 2017 / 8:42 am

    Even though I am an out an out vegetarian, I love the concept of cooking with N=Banana leaves. I often ask my Bengali friend to prepare something veg. for me using ‘Kola Pata’ to enable me appreciate the concept.

    • October 14, 2017 / 8:45 am

      Even I love the fantastic taste the banana leaves give to any preparation. So glad you enjoyed the post!

  7. October 14, 2017 / 9:11 am

    Very well worded Rhea,Wish you a very Happy Diwali.We are vegetarians ,can you suggest a recipe prepared in banana or turmeric leaves?

    • October 16, 2017 / 12:05 am

      Hi Renu! Thank you for the appreciation. You can substitute the fish with paneer, exactly the same way and it will come out nice….

  8. October 14, 2017 / 6:32 pm

    I am not a big fish fan but this recipe looks great. Especially cooking in a banana leaf is very interesting.

  9. October 15, 2017 / 5:33 am

    Paturi is my favorite. And in Ahmedabad I don’t get the yummy Patrick available in Kolkata. Your recipe makes me now want to try this at home. Have never done it before.. But looks like the time has come 😀

    • October 16, 2017 / 12:07 am

      Thanks for the lovely words… it’s really an idea dish and it’s very handy when you want to impress guests. Do try and let me know how it went !

  10. October 15, 2017 / 7:50 pm

    Yayy I found a new dish for Diwali. Great tip to roast the leaf a bit before folding it. And I always thought even the coconut was to be ground – South Indian style. 😃 I learnt a new technique today. Thanks

    • October 16, 2017 / 12:02 am

      Thanks for the appreciation! Happy Diwali

  11. October 16, 2017 / 2:54 am

    I am vegetarian but I am drooling at the pics… So so good..any substitutes for vegetarians ?? Can I do this with brinjal or something ?

    Having born and brought up in Bengal and being married to a non vegetarian from Jamshedpur, I know how much fish is an integral part of the celebrations.

    • October 16, 2017 / 3:11 am

      Thank you so much for the lovely words! As you said, fish is truly an important item in our Bengali household,and during these festive season we tend to make few fancy dishes to suit the mood:)
      You can easily substitute the fish with paneer… exact same recipe – it’s bhapa paneer! Brinjal is a good idea too, never tried it with that but sounds like it can be an option too.
      Happy Diwali

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