Indian cuisine is loaded with leaf-wrapped delicacies, and when it comes to Bengali cuisine specifically, the delicacy known as Paturi immediately comes to mind. Paturi is a dish made with the flexible, ancient cooking method of leaf-wrapping that works well with a range of foods, such as vegetables, prawns, chicken and fish. The key benefit of this cooking method is that apart from adding the flavours of the leaves, whether they be banana leaves or turmeric leaves, into the dish itself, Paturi is a very healthy and nutritious dish too.
This is primarily because wrapping any food ingredient in leaves and then cooking the entire parcel creates a natural, steamed and perfectly cooked delicacy that has all flavours and aromas locked in. Get the proportions that go into the parcel right and serve a Paturi, and the experience a diner will get is nothing short of the joy of opening a well-wrapped gift of food.
In Bengali cuisine, Paturi is always a part of celebrations, from weddings to festivals because of this very fact. Usually, the parcels are flavoured with mustard paste, yoghurt and mild spices along with a central ingredient. You might assume that this central ingredient has to be a fish, and while that is true, there are plenty of vegetarian Paturis in Bengali cuisine too. The following are a few popular paturis in Bengali cuisine:
1. Bhetki Paturi: In Bengali cuisine, Bhetki Paturi is a delectable and fragrant dish prepared with bhetki fish. The word paturi describes a cooking method where the main ingredient, in this case bhetki fish, is marinated in a mixture of spices, mustard oil, green chilies, and mustard paste before being cooked inside banana leaves. Bhetki Paturi, which showcases traditional cooking techniques and flavour profiles, is a part of Bengal's rich culinary heritage. It is frequently handed down through the generations and represents the cultural identity of the area. One dish that helps people connect with their cultural heritage is bhetki paturi. It is an illustration of the cooking customs that have long been a part of Bengali households.
2. Chingri Paturi: In Bengali cuisine, Chingri Paturi is a highly valued dish that consists of aromatic and delectable prawns (chingri) prepared with the traditional paturi method. The word paturi describes a type of cooking in which the main ingredient is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked after being marinated in a mixture of mustard paste, green chilies, mustard oil, and spices. The aroma of the dish is enhanced when the prawns are cooked in banana leaves. As the prawns cook, the leaves add to a naturally occurring aromatic envelope that gives them a light, earthy scent. The delicate and sweet flavour of prawns, which are highly valued in Bengali cuisine, is celebrated in Chingri Paturi. The method lets the prawns take centre stage, and the strong tastes of green chilies and mustard balance it out.
3. Chhanar Paturi: As a vegetarian take on the traditional paturi—which entails marinating food in mustard paste, green chilies, mustard oil, and spices before wrapping it in banana leaves to cook—Chhanar Paturi is significant in Bengali cuisine. A tasty and vegetarian substitute for traditional paturis made with fish or meat, the central ingredient used here is chhena or chhana, which are delicious milk solids. It is suitable for vegetarians as well, so they can savour the unique flavours of the paturi technique. Because it can be served in a variety of ways, chhanar paturi is appropriate for both regular meals and special events. Due to its adaptability, it can be served as part of a festive spread during celebrations or as part of a typical family dinner.
Video Credit: Youtube/ SreeJa's Cooking Diary
4. Potol Paturi: The traditional paturi method of cooking pointed gourd (potol) is the main ingredient in Potol Paturi, also referred to as Paturi Potol, a noteworthy dish in Bengali cuisine. Using this method, the main ingredient is marinated in a mixture of spices, mustard oil, green chilies, and mustard paste before being cooked inside banana leaves. Potol Paturi is a vegetarian delight that provides vegetarians with a tasty and fragrant dish. It showcases the paturi technique's adaptability by showing that it can be used for vegetables other than meat and fish. Cooking the pointed gourd in banana leaves intensifies the dish's fragrance. During cooking, the leaves add to a naturally occurring aromatic envelope that gives the potol a light, earthy scent.
5. Murgi Paturi: A popular Bengali dish called Murgi Paturi is made with chicken (murgi) prepared in the old-fashioned paturi way. Using this method, the chicken is marinated in a mixture of spices, mustard oil, green chilies, and mustard paste before being cooked inside banana leaves. Murgi Paturi is a dish that showcases generations-old cooking techniques, deeply ingrained in Bengali culinary heritage. It captures the region's rich cultural and gastronomic identity. Murgi Paturi is a versatile dish that works well for both regular meals and special events. Due to its adaptability, it can be served as part of a festive spread during celebrations or as part of a typical family dinner.
6. Ilish Paturi: In Bengali cuisine, Ilish Paturi holds great significance and is highly appreciated, especially during the Hilsa (Ilish) fish season. Hilsa fish is marinated in a mixture of mustard paste, green chilies, mustard oil, and spices before being cooked inside banana leaves. The dish known as Ilish Paturi, which has its origins in Bengali cuisine, is a staple of the Hilsa fish season. It highlights the significance of Hilsa in Bengali cuisine and the region's rich cultural and culinary identity. Ilish Paturi encourages people to stay connected to their cultural heritage. It illustrates the significance of Hilsa in the local diet by symbolising the cooking customs that have long been a part of Bengali households.
7. Mochar Paturi: A traditional Bengali dish with both culinary and cultural value is mochar paturi. This vegetarian treat is made with banana blossoms, or mocha as they are called in Bengali, which are marinated in a mixture of spices and mustard paste before being wrapped in banana leaves and baked or steam-cooked. Mochar Paturi has a long history in Bengali cooking. The use of banana blossoms is a reflection of both the region's accessibility to this unusual ingredient and Bengali cuisine's inventiveness in fusing a variety of flavours. Using banana blossoms, Mochar Paturi adds to a healthy, well-balanced Bengali meal.