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Food and some stories....

Category: Fish

Bhetki Paturi-Fish in mustard sauce wrapped in banana leaf

For Bengali’s the world over fish and rice is the staple, and no feast is complete without a fish delicacy. So imagine to my parents horror, as a kid I used to hate fish, and lunch time was a challenge whenever fish was made. The variety of fish available to choose and eat in Kolkata would gladden the heart of any fish loving Bengali, but I would curse the abundance of produce.

It’s only now grown up and faraway from Kolkata, that I have learnt to appreciate the cuisine and especially fish and the myriad ways my mother would make fish curry. Just a change in addition of vegetables or spices and voila a new fish curry recipe with the same fish. I doubt any other culture has so many ways of making the same fish as we Bengalis do; and I miss all of it in Mumbai. Although Mumbai has a huge Diaspora of Bengalis, the lack of good fish is a problem I have faced. I miss the big 7-8 kg rohu or bhetki (Indian Basa) that is usually available in Kolkata and I find that they are far tastier than the small 1-2 kg fish that we get in Mumbai. So recently found this online vendor of fish who delivers fresh bhetki fillet right at home, so no more trips to the fish market.

I usually make fish fry or fish cutlets with the Bhetki fillets, this time wanted to try something else, so thought of making Bhetki Paturi, which is basically fish wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. One of the most well known and loved Bengali dishes, it’s an evergreen and everyone’s favourite dish. I tried making it for the first time, and was wondering why I haven’t tried it before, so simple to make and so mouth watering that it will convert any non fish loving person.

Traditionally, it is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed; I have used banana leaves and instead made them in the oven. If you don’t have access to banana leaves, aluminium foil will do just fine; I ran out of banana leaf and used foil. But it does look far more delectable wrapped in a banana leaf, as good food is as much visual as much it titillates your palate.

Bhetki Paturi

Ingredients

3 tbsps mustard seeds

1 tsp poppy seeds

7-8 green chillies

2-3 garlic cloves

Mustard oil

Turmeric

Grated fresh coconut

500 Gms bhetki fillet

salt to taste

Method

Start by cutting the fish into pieces, roughly 2.5”× 2.5”; coat the pieces with salt and turmeric and set aside. Then we need to make the mustard paste. Soak the poppy and mustard seeds in little water for about 30 minutes. Drain and make a paste in the blender along with about 4 green chillies and 2-3 garlic cloves, add about two teaspoons of water to the paste.

Once the paste is ready we add a pinch of turmeric, salt to taste and a tablespoon of mustard to it, your mustard mixture for fish is now ready.

Next we cut the banana leaves as per our fish to wrap them, it will be a good idea to warm them on low flame on the gas or put them in the oven for some time and wilt them so that they are easier to wrap, as they become softer.

Now to marinade the fish we take the leaf, smear the mustard paste on both sides generously, add grated coconut and sliced green chillies and wrap them, it will be a good idea to tie them up with a piece of string. Let the fish rest wrapped in banana leaves for about 30 to 45 minutes; you can pop them in the fridge.

Bhetki Paturi

Bhetki Paturi

Pre heat oven at 175C and then bake the fish for about 15 to 20 minutes. Unwrap the banana leaves for steaming delicious fish, always serve hot; best eaten with steamed rice.

 

Baked John Dory

Imagine you had dinner plans and all of a sudden they get cancelled, you had dreamed of having some good food and all of a sudden you have to fend for yourself. What to do then? What if I tell you that you can get a restaurant quality meal in 30 minutes and that includes time for prep, the actual cooking will take even lesser time. So when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

So now you know my predicament that I faced the other day, I was really craving good food and did not want to slave in the kitchen for too long. So a quick scan of the fridge revealed that I had fish in the fridge. Unlike other meats fish is the quickest to thaw and also the fastest to cook, so I knew exactly what I was having for dinner.

First course of action quickly get the fish out of the fridge, and put it in some water to let it thaw quickly; I had a filet of John Dory in my freezer( you can use basa or bhetki fillet for the same). While the fish is thawing; I quickly scanned the fridge to see what vegetables I had in the fridge, I found some carrots, broccoli and zucchini. Now my secret to quick cooking, is that whenever I have time I keep some vegetables chopped in the fridge, this saves me a lot of time, so I was grateful that I didn’t have to start chopping now. All I did was just take out some garlic cloves and finely chopped them; and I was good to go for the fibre part of the meal.

Once the fish is thawed, smear both sides with salt and let the fillet be like that for some time, so that the salt is infused properly. Meanwhile get a pot of salted water on the gas burner ready, once the water is boiling put the carrot in it, after a while the broccoli and the zucchini last, all this not for more than three minutes. You will see the vegetables colour enhance, take it out before the zucchini loses its crispness. Once the vegetables are out take a frying pan put the chopped garlic with some butter and stir till the garlic is fragrant, add the veggies and stir till the vegetables are coated well in the butter. Your side for the fish is ready.

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Now to bake the fish, you need lemon, I had a Gondhoraj in the fridge so I chopped it into small wedges. If you don’t have a Gondhoraj, you can use regular lemons, for a full size fillet probably use two lemons, and cut them into wedges. Take a baking tray and coat both sides of the fish with black pepper, pour olive oil over the fish generously, and tuck the lime wedges under the fish. The lemon will get baked and slowly release the juices infusing the fish. Add some bay leaf. Bake the fish for ten minutes in the oven at 220 degrees Celsius, or till the fish is flaky. Your restaurant quality dinner is ready!  The greatest food is all about a few ingredients done well. Easy wasn’t it, Bon appetite!

Recipe-Baked John Dory (serves two)

Ingredients

One full size John Dory Fillet

One Lime or two lemons

Bay Leaf

Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil

Method

  1. Salt fish on both sides generously and leave for some time.
  2. Taking a baking tray and put the fish on it after seasoning with black pepper, pour lots of olive oil
  3. Tuck lime wedges all around the fish and out some bay leaves on top.
  4. Bake for ten minutes at 220 Celsius or till the fish is flaky. Serve hot

 

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