Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Koi Macher Paturi (Climbing Perch Wrap)

Koi Macher Paturi

After almost half a year I am back to Kolkata for a vacation. It feels so much good. No office deadlines, no waking up early, no cooking dinner or doing the dishes, only having pure rest and lot's of food. Kolkata means dedar adda and jomie bhuribhojon. The mecca of Rasta food (Street food) Kolkata never disappoints me in its lip smacking egg chicken rolls, tangy fuchkas and spicy jhalmuris. But above all I look forward to indulge in myriad delectable fish preparations on each day of my stay. In the first week of my stay at my in-laws home my father-in-law made sure that we had a different type of fish everyday knowing well my love for it. In the following week my mom is making sure the same trend continues. Everyday there is a baina (request) from me and she happily obliges every time. i had a craving for Koi paturi from long so ma decided to make it today.

Paturi is a cooking process in which raw fish slathered in spice paste is wrapped in a particular kind of leaf and steamed together. Usually if you search on net the only paturi that you would come across is fish in mustard-poppy paste and wrapped in banana leaves, which is more of a Ghoti Cuisine. But the Bangal way of making a paturi has some variations. Koi paturi is made by wrapping the fish (smeared in Jeera paste) in a lau pata (Bottle gourd leaves). My maternal forefathers belonged to Faridpur in Bangladesh. This recipe of  Koi Paturi has been handed down through generations in our family and it still much in vogue.

My Dadu (grandpa) was a connoisseur of Traditional Bengali cooking. He knew his food well and loved everything that my Dida (grandma) made.  During Holidays when me and my cousin visited Dadur Bari, Dadu used to literally stuff us with so much food that it would usually lead to a tummy upset but yet he would never let us miss the pathar mangsho, Bhaja illish and Koi paturi. Food would be cooked in huge pots and pans and the entire family of 9 people would sit down together to eat. It was no less than a big picnic everyday during lunch and dinner. As the lids were taken off the amazing aromas would simply captivate us.Gone are those days of big family luncheon, but the recipes are still much alive within our family.

Note: The Koi I am referring to here is not to be confused with its Japanese namesake.

The first and most important step towards making this piquant recipe is getting the right kind of fish and leaves to wrap. The fishes should be as fresh as they can be and the lau pata needs to be tender enough.
Fresh Produce

Here is the secret recipe from our Kitchen.

Preparation Time: 40 minutes (includes cleaning the fish)

Cooking Time: 10 minutes


Cuisine: Bengali

  • Koi Mach - 4
  • Tender Lau Leaves (Bottle gourd leaves) -  8 (2 Big leaves  per fish)
  • Fresh Jeera Paste (Cumin Paste) -  4 tbsp
  • Green Chilli - 4 (withing the paturi) + 1 (in Jeera Paste)
  • Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Mustard oil - 3 tsp

1. Clean the fish. Make two 2" thin cuts into each side of the fish. This is for the spices to enter into the fish properly.

2. Marinate the fish with turmeric, salt and sugar for 10 minutes

Marinated Koi Mach

3. Wash the leaves and cut from nodes.

Fresh Lau Pata
4. Make a uniform paste of Jeera and 1 green chillies using shil nora or mixer.

Jeera paste 
 You can add poppy paste also along with the Jeera Paste. Reduce the amount of Jeera Paste according to the amount of poppy paste that you are adding. In total it should be 4 tbsp. 

5. Smear the Jeera paste on the fishes uniformly. Adjust the salt. Keep it for about 5 mins

6. Drizzle the mustard oil on the fish and mix well

Fishes lathered in spices
7. Take 2 leaves at a time and place one on the other in opposite direction ( Suppose the first leaf tip faces you so when you place the next one it should face away from you.

8. Place the fish in the middle along with some spice paste

Wrapping the fish

9. Place a green chilli in the middle of the fish

Watch the Wrapping Process video 

10. Wrap the fish well so that no part remains exposed. Tie it well with a thread. Prepare the other fishes in the same way.

When this was prepared at Dadu's home, chillies were not placed inside the paturis meant for children. To distinguish between the paturies, different colored threads were uses.e.g. for paturies without chillies red thread was used and for the others white ones were used.  This made it more interesting because we children thought we were getting the special ones among the lot.
The wrapped Fishes
11. This preparation is served with rice so wash and clean the rice and place it in the cooker. Add necessary water for the rice to get cooked. Place the wrapped fishes one by one on the rice bed. Close the lid and pressure cook for two whistles or as required for the rice to get cooked properly.

12. Once the rice is done, let the steam sit inside the cooker for a while like 5 minutes and then open the lid. As soon as you open the lid you will be greeted with the soft aroma of Jeera. As the color of the leaves and haldi will seep into the rice, the rice will take on a pale yellow look. This nice and flavoury rice can be eaten alone as well with a pinch of salt. The fishes will be well steamed by now.

In a serving dish, serve the Fish Paturis( still wrapped) over a small bed of the flavoury rice. When you eat it you need to open the knot and take out the fish from the leaf. Mix the leaf and spices with the rice, add a pinch of salt if required and enjoy it along with the fish. This is a complete dish in itself, it doesn't need to be accompanied by a daal or jhol (gravy). But if you are not used to eating dry, you can have it with any sides you want. But its best eaten as it is.

Serving the paturi on a bed of flavored rice

Pardon the blurring of the serving picture as it was pretty difficult to take some decent pictures with hungry people thronging me.

If you like this post, do share it with others. Also I would like to read your comments regarding this recipe.


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