The very mention of ilish paturi makes my mouth water. I am in love with the smell of banana leaves in which the fish is wrapped. Ilish paturi when served with steamed rice is match made in heaven. There is a saying amongst us Bengalis that there is Illish ( Hilsa Fish) and there are other fishes. In taste, aroma , tenderness and exclusivity this fish is unmatched. It does not get lebelled as the King of Fishes for nothing. It's breeding generally takes place in the Bay of Bengal & Gangetic delta having a mixture of sweet and saline water.
This mixture brings about the lovely taste of this fish. Also, eating this fish requires skillful handling of the bones which challenge you to remove them without getting the harder ones getting stuck in your throat. The idea is to let the chew the softer bones so that they would not bother you while eating. But one should not worry about a few bones getting stuck in the throat as they easily get digested withina short period. It's this novelty factor that has been well exploited by the Fish Mongers who till recently have hiked it's price to Rs.1100/- per kg ( Almost US$20 ).
However, when we do buy it , we make the most of it through cooking in different styles. So this time around it is Paturi( Fish baked by wrapping it inside plantain leaf) . It retains the original taste and the simmering heat makes the cooking uniform throughout. So, Enjoy...
4 Hilsa /ilish pieces
5 tbsp Mustard seeds (mixture of black and yellow mustard seeds), soaked in warm water with 1/2 tsp white vinegar
4 pieces of Banana (plantain) leaves
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tbsp Poppy seeds (optional)
9-10 Green chillies
1 tsp Chilly powder
5-6 tbsp Mustard Oil
Salt to taste
With extreme care wash ilish pieces and place them on a flat plate. Ground to paste: Mustard seeds + Green chillies + Poppy Seeds +pinch of salt & turmeric. The paste should not be too fine but grainy. Apply this paste evenly on the fish pieces and keep aside.
Now next step is to prepare the wraps, for that wash the banana leaves thoroughly. Soften the banana leaves over low flame by holding them some 12 inches above from the burner (this step will make banana leaf foldable).
Now smear little mustard oil on each banana leaf and place one piece of fish on each leaf. You can add additional chillies and wrap into a neat packet, tie with a twine/ cotton thread.
Now I followed two process here as few of my readers requested for Oven version also. So I took two wrapped parcels for Oven method. In a pre-heated Oven cook the enveloped steaks for 15 minutes on 180 Degree C.
Remaining two were done on greased(1tsp oil) Tawa on low flame, cover with a lid and cook for 12-15 minutes (in between do flip it for evenly cooking) till the green leaf starts showing some light brown patches.
Let it cool a bit and then unwrap the fish by remove the thread. Now serve this affectionately made ilish paturi with steamed rice.
User Comments & Tips:
- To maintain the taste and flavour it is said that hilsa should not be washed for too long or dipped in water for longer period.
- Hilsa always tastes best when cooked fresh instead of frozen ones.
- Just when you unwrapped the parcel, before serving many do add a tsp of mustard oil over the fish but THIS IS COMPLETELY OPTIONAL. As many ilish lovers like me enjoys the strong pungent taste which this dish brings out the best.
- Instead of banana leaf you can also take lao /bottle guord leaf .