Like any other Region Bengalis have their favorite news paper which is Ananda Bazar Patrika or ABP. Before they start their day they love to stop by to this paper with their morning Cuppa, this is a part of their lives. Though the new age Bengalis are converting to English news papers like The Telegraph or Time of India but that comes to the family as an addition to this Bengali ABP. Most people say that the quality of the paper has degraded since its inception and nowadays prints useless news but enter any Bengali family in the morning and you will see the man of the house or the ‘Karta’ lazing on a cloth couch with this paper and a steaming cup of tea by his side. They love to read this paper paragraph by paragraph, line by line and in-between lines as this helps them to open storming discussion in the evening adda (chat session) at the local cha er Dokan (tea shop)…Love it or loathe it, they cant do without it.
This morning I was browsing through some old issues and found an article where celebrities have talked about what they are going to eat this summer to keep themselves cool. Well not only celebrities but all of us need to plan our summer diet carefully as this is the time of many a stomach infections. Home cooked Light meals accompanied by plenty of filtered water would be our best bet, also sneak all those colorful juicy fruits that summer offers. As for me I prefer light dishes cooked with minimum oil and spices. Come summer I also switch my cooking methods from frying to boiling, steaming and sautéing. We Bengalis have a lovely way of cooking veggies and fish which is called bhapa or steaming. Remember my Chalkumro Pata Die Chingri Macher Bati Tarkari/ Steamed Prawns with Ash Gourd Leaves …that was an ultimate steamed dish. Following that Paneer (Indian Cottage cheese), Cabbage, veggies could also be cooked.
I prefer steamed foods as this method retains the moisture, nutrient and the color of the ingredients. Think of a dish where the polite purple of eggplants creates contrast with pristine white of potatoes and lush green of beans…isn’t that sheer poetry on a plate. Also unlike traditional cooking method the ingredients in steaming process remains juicy and succulent and doesn’t loose out on flavor. This could be the best option for persons who like their food to be cooked with minimum oil or with no oil. I love to create exotic dishes with this traditional cooking method but today I would share a very humble recipe, kumro patay chingri paturi or Prawn with spices wrapped in pumpkin leaves. Recently I have come to know that traditional paturi of Bengal or leaf wrapped dishes should not be cooked in banana leaf; the idea here is to eat the leaves along with the ingredients so the leaves have to be edible. You can use any edible leaf for this, YES even spinach but Pumpkin, Ash Gourd, white pumpkin or bottle gourd leaves obviously imparts a nice aroma to this which would be missing that way.
If you like steaming as a cooking process, be very careful about the cooking time. Overcooked ingredients ruin all the fun.
ChalKumro patay Chingri Paturi
Ash Gourd leaves: 4 pieces;
while choosing edible leaves check the texture and the quality, try to find organic and tender ones. Here these leaves are from my Maa’s Garden.
Small prawns: a handful
Mustard seeds: ½ tsp
Scraped coconut: 1 tbsp
Green chilly: 1
Very finely chopped onion: ½ tsp
Few drops of mustard oil
First we need to prepare the leaves. For this wash them thoroughly under running water. Boil some water with salt and dip these leaves for a few seconds. This will not only kill all the germs but also will make it soft to wrap ingredients easily.
Put the chilly, mustard and prawns in a blender and make a coarse paste.Don’t add any water, the mix should be tight.
Now mix in the coconut, salt and turmeric. Keep aside.
Take a leaf on your open palm.
Put a spoonful of the mixture in the middle of the leaf.
Gently wrap from sides to make a tight parcel.
Repeat the same for the rest.
Now heat a flat pan/griddle or Tawa. Grease with a few drops of oil and place the prepared parcels.
Cook on very low for a couple of minutes on both sides.
Serve as evening snacks or with white steamed rice. Don’t forget the mustard sauce.
With warm rice and Kasundi (tart Mustard paste) these paturi taste heavenly.
Check out my Ilish MAcher Paturi or Hilsa in banana leaf recipe here.
1. Use crumbled Cottage cheese, preferably homemade ones.
2. lightly roast peanuts and coarsely pound them, mix with the spice mix. Makes an awesome filling for this.
3. Cabbage or cauliflower could also be used to get a mouth watering dish. For that don’t blend them in blender rather use a mortar n pestle to get coarse texture.
1. You could use any other small or big fish either whole or coarse paste made in mortar n pestle.
2. Hilsa, Rohu works well in this recipe.
3. Now day’s big chefs are also trying chicken in this way. I never tried but you could try.
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