Paneer Paturi (Fresh cottage cheese steamed in banana leaves)

Cuisine: Bengali

Duration: 50 minutes

Serves: 8

One of my relatives is getting married soon and as always I will be missing out on all the fun that comes along with it. Although COVID-19 has pressed the reset button for the grand Indian wedding, one thing that hasn’t changed is the long conversations around the wedding menu. For a foodie like me, a Bengali wedding is a dream come true. I might forget the lavish décor and extravagant arrangements, but the indulgence of the sumptuous feast shall be etched in my memories for sure.
 
So the other day when I laid my hands on some banana leaves, my instant desire was to make ‘paturi’ at home. This simple yet versatile recipe has its origin in Dhaka and is considered to be a signature Bengali dish, reserved for special occasions, weddings and festivities. Although the one with Hilsa fish is the most popular, here is an uncomplicated vegetarian and gluten-free version of an age-old delicacy, steamed in banana leaves and tantalised with mustard paste and coconut. 

     Ingredients

  • 300g paneer / fresh cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup coconut grated
  • 1.5 tbsp mustard seed paste
  • 5-6 green chillies
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp mustard oil
  • Salt as per taste
  • 2 whole banana leaves
 

Method

  • Grind mustard seeds with a green chilli to make a smooth paste. Keep aside.
  • Make a coarse paste with grated coconut and a green chilli. Keep aside.
  • In a bowl, mash the paneer or fresh cottage cheese until lump-free.
  • Add the mustard paste, coconut paste, coriander leaves, turmeric powder, mustard oil and salt. Mix well. Keep aside.
  • Heat the banana leaves for few seconds over low flame from one edge to another, with the glossy side down. This will make it more pliable for easy folding.
  • Clean the leaves and cut it into rectangles.
  • Grease the leaves with some mustard oil.
  • Now place some paneer with a slit green chilli on top.
  • Fold it to make a parcel and tie with a thread. Repeat the process for the remaining paneer / cottage cheese mixture.
  • Grease a non-stick pan with mustard oil and place all the banana leaf parcels.
  • Cover and cook on low heat for 8-10 minutes. Make sure to flip the parcels after few minutes and cook the other side for 6-8 minutes or until done.
  • Serve it with hot steamed rice.
  • Unwrapping a ‘paturi’ is an emotional moment for a Bengali, so enjoy the experience.

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