The Paturi is a very commonly found item in most Bengali function menus, generally made with the filet of Bhetki (Barramundi) or pieces of Ilish (Hilsa), and sometimes even with prawn. Known for its pungent mustard flavour, punctuated with the kick of green chili, some Paturis are known to bring tears your eyes.
Vegetarian versions include Chhanar (Chenna) paturi, Dal paturi and sometimes Paturi made from mashed veggies like Papaya or Mocha (Banana Flower), etc. (And in my case, with paneer 😛 )
The sad part is, having grown up as what is known as a ‘Probashi Bangali’, I have missed out on many ‘truly Bong’ experiences…like the Fish Paturi at weddings, or enjoying some occasionally at home, ones made by your ‘Dida’ or Grandmom. Thus, my memories of Paturi are very recent, about a decade and some, and solely based on what I’ve enjoyed at family functions.
It’s not very common for a fish-loving Bong to forgo fish in the famous ‘Paturi’… Some even consider it close to sacrilege to think of making Paturi without anything but fish. But here I was, wanting to give this traditional dish an interesting twist…while ensuring I used up those wonderful coconuts.
I’ve skipped adding mustard paste in this, one, because I am very sensitive to it, and two, because I wanted the coconut to shine.
Paneer Paturi (Paneer filets steam-cooked in Banana Leaf parcels)
- Paneer (not chenna) – 300 gms, cut into 9 filet steaks
- Coconut – 2 cups or 1/2 a coconut, grated
- Posto (poppy-seed) – 3 tbsp
- Green chilies – 4
- Turmeric – 1/2 tsp + a few pinches
- Salt – to taste + a few pinches
- Mustard oil – 2 tsp + extra, a few spoonfuls
- Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
- Coriander – chopped, a little for garnish
- Banana leaves
- Soak the poppy seeds in water for 1 hour or so.
- Cut the banana leaf down the middle, discarding the hard central ridge.
- Make equal-sized square or rectangle pieces, and then wash the leaves and keep aside.
- Cut the paneer in equal sized steaks; about 2 x 2.5 inch sized pieces, 1 cm deep.
- Rub lemon juice, mixed with a few pinches of turmeric and salt all over the paneer slices, and keep aside for 30 mins in the fridge.
- Drain the poppy seeds.
- Make a smooth paste of the coconut, poppy-seeds, green chilies, turmeric, salt, and a little mustard oil.
- Add very little water, only bit by bit, as needed to make a smooth paste.
- Heat a tawa, and on medium heat, gently warm the banana leaves (this keeps them from breaking as you fold them…a trick learnt from grandmom..you may also dip them in warm water for 10 mins).
- Take out the paneer from the fridge, and place a dollop of marinade paste in the middle of each banana leaf.
- Place the paneer, and apply the marinade generously on top.
- Sprinkle some coriander, and a few drops of mustard oil.
- Heat a non-stick pan, and drizzle oil all over.
- Fold the banana leaves, making a tight parcel, and secure with string, or if you’re very non-dexterous like me, use toothpick 😛
- Place the paturi in the pan, and cover.
- Cook on one side for 3 mins, and then flip over and cook for another 3 to 4 mins, or until the banana leaves begin to brown and sizzle.
- Take off the heat, and serve paturi with piping hot steamed rice, some lemon, green chilies and add as much as MO as you’d like 😉