Try this easy-to-make Bengali fare at home. (Swissôtel Kolkata/designed by Gargi Singh)
The Bengal cuisine is renowned for its fiery yet subtle flavours inspired by the Nawabs. Rice and maach (fish) make for a staple combination that is hard to be missed.
Interestingly, there are more than 92 types of fish preparations found in the state, as per a 2017-research published in Journal Of Entomology And Zoology Studies. Not just fish, Bengal is full of flavours and has so many dishes made of seafood. From prawns to crabs, there are several types of seafood that you can use to make delicious dishes. If you are looking for a Sunday dinner special, here are must-try recipes by Subhash Jana Executive Chef at Swissôtel Kolkata, which recently hosted a Bengali Food Festival called 'Amar Bangla' at the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant Café Swiss.
Daab Chingri or prawns cooked in coconut shell
The tender and juicy prawns in this curry make for a melt-in-the-mouth experience. (Photo: Swissôtel Kolkata)
It’s a popular Bengali recipe that you can easily make at home. It is made with fresh prawns that taste amazing since they are cooked in coconut paste, mustard and turmeric. These ingredients give them a nice and fresh earthy flavour. The tender and juicy prawns in this curry make for a melt-in-the-mouth experience. It is very important to use fresh prawns for this recipe to get that fresh and breezy flavour of the sea. It is usually made during the festival of Pohela Boishakh which marks the first day of the Bengali calendar.
The prawn can also be substituted by shrimp if that is what suits you better. You can make this curry for a casual dinner at home or when you have some guests over. Seafood lovers will definitely fall in love with this prawn recipe.
750g - Prawns
1 no - Medium onion
1tsp - Panch phoron or Indian five-spice blend
4 no - Green chillies
1 1/2tsp - Turmeric powder
20g - Wheat dough
1 no - Large tender coconut
3tbsp - Mustard paste
3 no - Garlic cloves
2tbsp - Mustard oil
Salt as required
*Chop garlic, green chillies and onion. Scrape out the coconut flesh and put it in a grinder. Grind well to get a coconut flesh paste.
*Heat oil in a pan over medium flame and add panch phoron in it.
*Add the chopped green chillies, onions and garlic cloves.
*Now, take it out in a large bowl and add mustard paste, turmeric, salt and coconut flesh paste.
*In the mixture, add the raw prawns and mix everything well.
*Cut the bottom of the coconut shell evenly to make it stand properly inside the pressure cooker.
*Put the prawn mixture in the shell and cover the top with wheat dough.
*Add some water in the pressure cooker and place the coconut shell inside it. (Note: The level of water should be about half the height of the coconut shell.)
*Put the cooker lid on and let it cook over medium flame until you hear three whistles.
*After removing it from the flame, let the dish be inside the cooker for 10 more minutes.
*Take it out and remove the wheat dough seal. Serve hot with steamed rice.
Fish Paturi or barramundi fish wrapped in banana leaf
Bengali Bhetki Macher Paturi recipe is Bengali-style barramundi fish cooked by wrapping in banana leaf. (Photo: Swissôtel Kolkata)
Bengali Bhetki Macher Paturi recipe is Bengali-style barramundi fish cooked by wrapping in banana leaf. The bhetki fish pieces are marinated in a spiced mustard paste, wrapped in banana leaf individually and then slow cooked till tender. The word Paturi means leaf in Bengali. Generally, Bengalis make paturi using Ilish (hilsa fish), Bhetki (barramundi fish) and chingri (prawn). This is a delicious recipe with the bhetki fish.
4 no - Bhetki fish , fillets cut to 4*2 inch pices
2tbsp - Mustard seeds
1tbsp - Poppy seeds
1/4 cup - Fresh coconut, grated, plus more to garnish
7 no - Green Chillies, slit
1tsp - Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 no - Banana leaf, cut into 10*8 rectangles
2tbsp - Mustard oil
Salt as required
*Mix the fish pieces with half teaspoon turmeric powder and salt in a bowl.
*In a mixer grinder, make a paste of mustard seeds, poppy seeds and green chilies by adding a little bit of water.
*Take the grated coconut in a bowl. Add mustard seeds paste, a bit of salt to taste and remaining turmeric powder. Mix and make a fine mixture with a fork.
*Cover and keep them in the fridge for an hour.
*Remove the fish from the fridge and mix with a teaspoon of mustard oil.
*Stir gently, warm the banana leaves over an open flame for 30 seconds, make sure it does not get burnt.
*Put banana leave pieces glossy side up over a plate, rub a little mustard oil on it.
*Now spread a teaspoon of marinated paste in the center of the banana leaf, place one piece of fish on the paste and put another teaspoon of paste on the top of fish piece so as to cover the fish piece by the paste from both sides then place a green chilli on top of it.
*Fold the banana leaf to make it a square parcel and tie with thread that the parcels will not open while cooking. Repeat the process for all the fish pieces.
*Now take a non-stick pan and grease some oil on it and place the banana leaf wrapped fish pieces on it. You can place four-five pieces at a time according to the size of your pan. Close the pan with a heavy lid and cook on medium heat for 8-9 minutes on each side on a medium heat.
*When one batch is done, remove them and place in a casserole to keep the paturi hot. Again repeat the same process to cook the rest of the macher paturi.
Which one would you like to try?