Bhetki Paturi

According to food historian, Pritha Sen, the word Paturi comes from 'Patri' which means tablet like a slab of stone. This refers to the way this mind-blowing fish preparation is cooked. This dish is cooked in a flat layer on low heat, in a leaf parcel. I have vivid memories of my grandmother cooking bhetki paturi in the backyard of our family home in Kolkata. One of my fondest memories of our childhood home revolves around this beautiful, simple fish preparation.

P.S: You can replace the gondhoraj lemons with Thai Makrut limes.

SERVES:

4

INGREDIENTS:

General:

1 kg Bhetki Fish (Barramunda)
10 g Salt
Banana Leaves cut into 20 cms X 20 cms squares (for wrapping)
Cotton String

For Mustard Paste:

100 gms Mustard Seeds (half brown, half yellow)
15 gms Green Chillies
30 gms Salt
3 gms Turmeric

For Bhetki Paturi:

25 gms Charmagaz (Melon Seeds)
25 gms Gondhoraj Lemon Juice
50 gms Mustard Oil
8 Slit Green Chillies
8 Gondhoraj Lemon Leaves

METHOD:

General:

Dry your bhetki fillets with paper towels until they are fully dry and sticky to touch.

Cover with the salt and place in fridge while preparing the mustard paste.

Making Mustard Paste:

Soak mustard seeds in water for 15-20 minutes.

Grind the mustard seeds, green chillies, Charmagaz, salt, and turmeric into a paste with a little water. You can grind it in a mortar and pestle like it is traditionally done, or blitz in a mixer until it forms a fine paste.

Stir in the mustard oil and gondhoraj lemon juice. Place mustard marinade aside.

Making Bhetki Paturi:

Coat the Bhetki fillets with the mustard paste.

Gently toast the banana leaves on a low flame to ensure they don't break while folding.

Place a dollop of mustard marinade on a leaf, then fillet, then more mustard paste topped with a slit green chilly, a drizzle of mustard oil and a gondhoraj lemon leaf.

Carefully wrap the leaf around the fillet, making sure it is fully covered. Cover with another leaf if the first one tears a little.

Gently tie and secure leaf parcel with a cotton string. Don't use a synthetic string as it might melt in the heat.

Steam each leaf parcel for about 10-15 mins.

Unwrap each parcel with a steaming pile of hot, fresh rice and enjoy!

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