Even those who do not love fish, they still love the Paturi. The irresistible paturi has been a popular cuisine of Bengal for many reasons. The fresh banana leaves impart a special aroma when cooked with the fish. The meat of the fish remains tender and juicy, presenting a fine taste of the spices.

Bengal’s ‘fishy’ sweetheart has a number of avatars around the world. Varying in spices and flavours, fish wrapped in plantain leaf is a delicacy in parts of South Asia, the Caribbeans and the Mediterranean. Here are some paturi variations anybody can try at home.

Fish wrapped in banana recipe variations around the world 

Machcha Patropoda

Machcha Patropoda is a very popular dish of Odisha. It is a delectable dish prepared by wrapping fresh fish in a banana or plantain leaf marinated with spices. Simply put, this is a sisterly variation of the Bengali fish paturi. However the Bengali paturi is more inclined towards the strong aroma of mustard, Machcha Patropoda has the slight addition of curry and coriander leaves and is crispier.

How to make Machcha Patropoda
First let us prepere the masala. Take 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp cumin seeds (or powder), 1 tsp mustard seeds (or powder), 2 whole dry red chilies or 1/2 tsp chilli powder (or use regular green chilli for a healthier version). Make a paste of these ingredients and add 1/2 tsp lemon juice.

Take one whole fish, clean and cut it. If possible, make it boneless.  Add the prepared masala and to it add 1/4 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 5 to 7 curry leaves, chopped coriander leaves, 1 sliced onion and 1 tbsp mustard oil. You can add slit green chilli as well.

Take the banana leaf and cut into 6 to 8 inch squares. Roast it slightly on the flame for 5 seconds on each side. Now on the banana leaf, place a piece of marinated fish. Tie it up.

On a frying pan, put 1/2 mustard oil and heat the pan. Lower the flame and put the wrapped fish. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn it over and cook for another 10 minutes.

Enjoy this delicious dish from the land of Odisha. Here is one video which shows how you can make Machcha Patropoda step by step.

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Patrani Machchi

Patrani Machchi is a beloved Parsi dish. Parsis are known for being good industrialists and good food eaters. Parsi cuisine is an amalgamation of the original Irani cuisine with Gujarati, Maharashtrian and other Indian regional cuisines.

To make Patrani Machchi preferably use Pomfret or any boneless fillet. Take 8 to 10 pieces of fish fillet.

To marinate the fish make a fine paste of freshly scraped coconut about half a cup, coriander leaves one cup, salt 1/2 tsp, 6 green chillies, 3 tsp cumin seeds, 6 to 8 cloves of garlic. Make a paste and add 4 tsp of lemon juice. Marinate the fish fillet for at least 15 minutes.

Take the banana leaf and cut into 6 to 8 inch squares. Roast it slightly on the flame for 5 seconds on each side. Now on the banana leaf, place a piece of marinated fish. Tie it up.

The fish can be either cooked on a pan or steamed in a cooker for about 15 minutes. If you cook on a frying pan, put 1/2 oil and heat the pan. Lower the flame and put the wrapped fish. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, then turn it over and cook for another 5 minutes.
Enjoy Patrani Machchi with hot rice.

Watch and learn from super chef Sanjeev Kapoor as he prepares the mouthwatering Patrani Machchi.

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Otak-Otak is a delightful dish from Singapore. White fish is cooked wrapped in banana leaf marinated with spices.

Here is an easy recipe for cooking Otak-Otak at home. It follows the same logic as the paturi, just the spices are of a different combination. Here it is also cooked in an oven instead of on a pan.

To make 10 servings of Otak-Otak take about 300 gms of any white fish without any bones or take fish fillet. Scrape off the flesh from the fish.

Take 100 gms of shallots (or onions if you do not have shallots), 4 cloves of garlic, 10 pieces of dried chilli which is deseeded and then hydrated for 5 minutes. Take 2 red chilli and deseed those. Take 20 gm of galangal or blue ginger, 2 stalks of lemongrass using only the white part of it, 8 lime leaves, 15 gm of dry roasted belachan, 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 tablespoon of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1.5 teaspoons of salt, 2 egg white, 1 teaspoon of cornflour, 1 tablespoon of rice flour, 250 ml of coconut milk. All this will be blended into a fine paste along with the flesh of the fish.

You will need some banana leaves and a some toothpicks instead of thread as used in this recipe. Take the banana leaf and cut into 4 inch squares. Roast it slightly on the flame for 5 seconds on each side or soak it in boiling water for 5 minutes. Now on the banana leaf, place a piece of marinated ‘fish paste’. Pin it up with the toothpicks as shown. This uses lesser banana leaf and is quicker.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line it up on a grilling tray and place it on the uppermost rack. Grill for 10 minutes, turn it over and grill it for another 10 minutes.

Otak-Otak is a unique and delicious avatar of the Bengali paturi which every fish lover will enjoy.

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No Banana Leaf? Bengali fish paturi in aluminium foil and lettuce wraps

In many places and markets banana leaf may not be available all the time. Do not worry, there is a solution to that. You can use aluminium foil to make your fish paturi in Bengali style. Although nothing can beat the fresh aroma of banana leaves, this version does taste good. Also, banana leaves are far more healthy than aluminium foils. However, when you do not have plantain leaves ready for your recipe, the aluminium foil is a practical alternative.

Bengali fish paturi in aluminium foil

Take six pieces of Bhetki fillet. Marinate with 3 tsp of mustard paste, 2 tsp of posto (Poppy seed) paste, 2 tsp of freshly grated coconut, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp mustard oil. You can add paste of green chilli or just use one slit green chilli with each fillet. Keep aside for at least 30 minutes.

To wrap use banana leaves or aluminium foil. Simply wrap the fish with the paste. Heat a pan and put 1 tsp mustard oil. Put the wrapped foils and cook for 10 minutes. Turn it over and cook for 10 minutes more.

Lettuce Wrapped Fish

Lettuce wrapped fish is a continental dish served as a delicacy. Usually the European versions prepare this dish with wine and butter. Here is another version which is quick to prepare and very easy to make.

Take lettuce leaves and if you do not like the raw smell of it, blanch it.

Take boneless fish. Marinate with salt, a little red chilly powder or black pepper powder, ginger garlic paste and lemon juice. Keep it aside for at least 15 minutes. Heat a pan and add 1 tsp olive oil. Cook the fish for 5 minutes.

Julienne carrot and celery. To a bowl add cheese and red chilli powder. Mix it well.  Take a lettuce and place the fish. Layer the fish with the cheese mix and place the vegetables. Wrap the lettuce, use a toothpick to pin it. The lettuce wrapped fish is healthy and can also be enjoyed as a salad.

Veg Paturi Recipe

Want to have paturi but also want to go vegetarian? Overcome this impossibility with these cheese stuffed crossover. This unique dish is a variation of the ‘potoler dorma’ made in paturi style stuffed with cheese. Can it get any better?

Cheesy Stuffed Potol Paturi

This recipe serves four and will take about 30 minutes to prepare.

Potol (Pointed gourd) – 250 grams, Green Chilies – 3 to 4 split, Paneer or ‘chhaana’- 250 grams, Garam masala powder – 1 tsp, Black pepper powder – 1 tsp, Salt – 1 tsp, Sugar  1 tsp.

Cashews – 8 to 10, raisins – 8 to 10, Processed cheese – 50 grams, Ghee – 2 to 3 tsp, Banana leaf – 1 full

bengali veg paturi

How to:
Wash the potol (pointed gourd) well and lightly scrape off the outer surface of the potol. If the pointed gourd is tender, you can keep the skin.

Chop the two ends of the pointed gourd and then scoop off the seeds of the pointed gourd with a spoon. Make it hollow. Boil some water with salt and add the hollowed gourds. Just boil it for three to four minutes, then drain the water and keep the gourds to dry.

For the stuffing, take homemade ‘chhana’ or grate the paneer. Add salt, sugar, black pepper powder. Finely cut green chillies and add. Cut the cashews and raisins into smaller pieces and add to the paneer. Grate the cheese and add into the mixture. Then add the garam masala powder and give it all a good mix.

Now add the stuffing in the pointed gourd carefully.Cut the banana leaf into smaller pieces of about four to five inches. Place the stuffed pointed gourd on the banana leaf and brush ghee on its surface. Wrap it with the leaf and tie it so that it stays in place.

Heat a frying pan and spread half teaspoon of ghee. Place the wrapped gourds and keep it low medium in heat. Cover it and cook for five minutes. Take the lid off and turn the gourds to the other side. Cover and cook again for five minutes. Your Paneer Stuffed Cheesy Potol Paturi is ready. You can enjoy it as a snack or have it with hot parathas.

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Image credits: By Takeaway – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22942169