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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Ilish Paturi (Hilsha fish steamed in plantain leaves)

Ilish paturi

I found some frozen plantain/Banana leaves at Ranch 99, my go-to place for fresh fish. This encouraged me to try fish paturi. I saw a video on YouTube (Pancha Byanjan) where the chef used sliced onions, coconut flakes and mustard seed paste- both white and black for the paturi. I made it the following way.
  1. Since the Ilish we get in the West Coast of US  is not as fresh  (read: frozen) as we get in the East Coast of India, I decided to shallow fry the fish  first with Nigella seeds, sliced onions, salt, turmeric and slit green chilies in mustard oil. (You can skip this and just steam the ingredients together if you have access to fresh Ilish.)
  2. Make a paste with black mustard. Add water in small portions if the paste is too thick to move inside the food processor.
  3. Then, I wrapped the fish in plantain leaves and steamed the in a steamer with lid on until done you can use kitchen twine or toothpick to seal the leaves). I noted the color of the leaves, when they turned pale, I switched off the flame. The steam continued cooking the fish.
Tip: The frozen leaves can be more brittle than usual, you may wash them under running cold water and microwave them for 30 secs to soften them. You may use Aluminium foil too, but the leaves impart a distinct flavor.

You can also use cauliflower , whitebait, pomfret, prawns or fish of your choice for the paturi . There is a similar Kerala Delicacy called Meen Pollichathu. 

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