Friday, February 11, 2011

Pôddar Ilish Paturi in the Microwave

Apparently the best and the most precious Ilish (Hilsa) comes from the river Padma of Bangladesh. Pôdda is the Bengali name for the same river.

hilsa_1_200908 When I moved to Canada, I wasn’t quite surprised that I got to eat better Ilish here than in India (Bihar and Delhi). Obviously the best produce of any country is exported to the western countries. Plus the Ilish we get here from the Bangladeshi store in Danforth is straight from Padma rather than the Rupnarayan River in Kolaghat.

The best quality of Ilish is known by its silver skin, which almost scintillates to your touch. Its scales are softer compared to a Rohu or Katla, two other voraciously consumed river fish by the Bengalis.

A fresh Ilish’s taste is the avatar of butter. Silken and oily, Ilish has a distinct taste, probably from the freshwater plankton it feeds on. You don’t have to be an Ilish connoisseur to quickly separate a fresh from a not-so-fresh Ilish. The latter will become chewy and also not have its deep and distinct flavor.

I do not know what exactly the word “Paturi” means. But the connotation is “steamed” or bhapa. Traditionally, Paturi is made by wrapping the fish in fresh banana leaves and steaming it. Though I do get to eat the best quality Ilish in Canada, I am not quite close to finding banana leaves (or a tree!) in layers of snow outside. Thus I am forced to settle with something that every city-dweller has convenient access to. The microwave.

IMG_1257 Oh, a rather important thing about Ilish, please do not “thoroughly” wash Ilish. You will just wash off all its flavor and taste. Ideally the scales of the fish are first removed, then the whole fish is washed and cut. But if you get your fish monger to cut the fish for you, bring it home and only lightly wash the pieces.

Ingredients for Ilish Maacher Paturi are:

4-6 slices of Ilish
Half teaspoon + 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
4-5 heaped tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon khus khus/posto/poppy seeds
2.5 tablespoons plain yogurt
5 + 7-8 green chilies
5-6 tablespoons mustard oil

Grind to a smooth paste the mustard seeds, poppy seeds, half teaspoon turmeric powder and 4-5 green chilies. Use little water to wet grind. What I do is, first dry grind the mustard and poppy seeds and then introduce the green chilies with very little water to get the smooth consistency.

IMG_1258 Arrange the slices of fish in a shallow microwaveable glass dish.

IMG_1261 Slobber the spice mixture on the fish. Add the yogurt, slice lengthwise the remaining green chilies and add them too. Top the fish pieces up with a teaspoon of turmeric powder, salt and drizzle the mustard oil. With a small spatula, evenly coat everything onto the fish pieces.

IMG_1263 I start with a spatula but usually end up using my hand to get the spices on both sides of the fish.

Cover with a cling wrap and keep for at least 10 minutes. Microwave the fish for 10 minutes.

IMG_1269 Serve the Ilish Maacher Paturi with steaming plain white rice.



Hamaree Rasoi said...

Illish Macher Paturi looks to be awesome. Great color that has come out of this combination.

Hamaree Rasoi

? said...

Pree for a version of the banana leaves try your nearest Vietanamese or Chinese market. You get frozen banana leaves and if its new, the colour will be 'fresh'.
Dish looks lovely!

Sharmila said...

Last week my fishwala had ilish but warned me that it is from Gujarat .. the kind that are available through out the year ... and nowhere near to the original ones. I opted for the pleasure of waiting the whole year to get the seasonal ones during the monsoons. :-)
That paturi in mw looks perfect with that kancha lonka. :-)

sra said...

Now that looks really, really appetising! I make mustard fish with any fish I get - I cannot tell between fish of different kinds, can only distinguish the size and no. of bones!

Priya said...

Slurp,mouthwatering here...delicious!

purplehomes said...

do you also courier cooked fish ? :)

The knife said...

Fantastic that you get ilish at Canada. I bought some tied. Fried it for lunch Microwave patoori seems to be a good idea. Wonder if 'patoori' refers to the banana leaf (paata) steamed one while this is bhaapa? Any thoughts. This is a good after office option. Does the curd curdle after 10 min? I normally put it in a tiffin box and then into a pan of boiling water. Learnt about that in the web. Ur method seems simpler and easier

PreeOccupied said...

@The Knife, no, the yogurt doesn't curdle. Yogurt or curd curdles when you add it mid-way of cooking when the heat is already high. In this recipe, you add it from the start and it cooks evenly with the rest of the ingredients.

When we did not have microwaves, my Mother used to transfer everything in a steel tiffin box, close lid and pressure cook till one whistle went off.

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

i have eaten the steel box in pressure cooker version and love it... I have never tried in a microwave - but must be delicious...
Looks great!

shooting star said...

i wish i can cook it for my hubby..but me being veggie and not touching fish or meat... :((
lets see..maybe i can direct my cook to prepare it this way!!!

Shilpi Bose said...

Since I am one of your followers I had noticed this post on Ilish, I was meaning to take time out to read it carefully. So Bengalis in Canada appear to have a better deal than those of us in India. I was happy to read your recipe because now I know how to make this in the microwave. We make this preparation only with mustard paste and do not add poppy seeds and yoghurt.

GB said...

That looks wonderful Pree!

Been ages......where/how art thou?

Sudeshna said...

Isn't Paturi meant to be wrapped in kaula pata or lau pata? This one seems more like a bhape ilish.

Jason said...

So you find the frozen Ilish to be of better quality than what we get back home?...I have always been wary of picking up the frozen ones in the danforth...

Malini said...

Ilish Paturi does need to be steamed in a banana leaf....the name actually comes from the "pata"
(leaf) :)
This is actually Ilish Bhaape...and a delicious dish it is!

PreeOccupied said...

Please scroll back up the post and read! Did I not mention how Paturi is traditionally made? :-)

Soma said...

oooof this is too much. Now I want to say go to hell low carb and need a plateful of gorom bhaat and ilish. what a pity no one in my home eats any of this stuff and I get too lazy to get a 3 lb fish and cook for myself. we do get banana leaves here in mexican stores and even in regular grocery stores sometimes. Other than a timid flavor of the steamed banana leaves i think it wld taste the same.