I yearn for something feisty this morning.
Tear-jerking spicy yet sinfully enticing.
Grey foggy winter having made a hushed exit, the kitchen this morning does not quite look the same as I look around for ideas.
The sun no longer casts silhouettes on the white-washed kitchen wall.
And I miss the theatrics and the innocent mischief of the infant sun.
My eyes land on the banana leaves resting patiently on the kitchen counter. Under the shroud of a moist red cloth.
A Paturi may be, to satiate my craving for something wicked ?
I run through the list of usual suspects.
Lonka bhapa murgi ? Chicken steamed with chillies three ways – green chilli paste, chilli pickle and chilli pickle oil.
No, Sundays are for cryptic crosswords, childhood comics and chicken curry. A ritual I am a slave to. At least when I am home.
Chhanar Paturi perhaps ? Homemade chhana caressed with the sweetness of grated coconut and the piquant zing of mustard ?
I could. But too lazy to make chhana this time-stops-still morning.
Calvin and Hobbes and cups of Darjeeling have been my company since morning. And I am reluctant to part ways just as yet.
Grandma’s bandhakopir paturi then ? Simple and fuss-free. Her ingenious trick to make Dada and me eat cabbage when we claimed we were bored with bandhakopir ghonto.
And that sublime delight letting the heady aroma of mustard play with our olfactory nerves as Dada and I would struggle with the twine securing the paturi parcels !!!
So that’s it for lunch this morning – Bandhakopir Paturi.
Finely shredded cabbage and a handful of frivolous peas. Smothered in a fiendish mustard posto paste. Sobered by that touch of ground aromatic gobindobhog rice. Drizzled luxuriantly with mustard oil. And left to cook languorously in the cocoon of banana leaf parcels.
Bandhakopir Paturi (Cabbage in Banana Leaf Parcel)
- 1 small cabbage thick outer leaves removed
- 1 tbsp gobindbhog rice
- 1 tbsp white mustard seeds
- 1/2 tbsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp posto or poppy seeds
- 7-8 green chilies
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 3 tbsp mustard oil
- salt to taste
- banana leaves for the paturi parcels, washed
- Cut off the central vein of the banana leaves, trim the edges. Warm the leaves over a very low flame, taking care to not char or burn the leaves. (This softens the leaves and keeps them flexible, making the parcels is much easier that way.) Cut the leaves to small pieces.
- Shred the cabbage finely, soak in hot water with a pinch of salt and allow to rest in the water for about 30 minutes. Drain the water, squeeze any excess water from the shredded cabbage, keep aside.
- Soak the yellow mustard seeds, black mustard seeds and posto in warm water for 15 odd minutes. Drain the water. Make a smooth paste with 3-4 green chillies, a pinch of turmeric powder and a couple of grains of rice, keep aside.
- Soak the gobindobhog rice in warm water for 15 odd minutes. Drain the water. Grind to a coarse paste with very little water, keep aside.
- Take the mustard-posto paste, gobindobhog rice paste, remaining green chillies, turmeric powder and 2 1/2 tbsp mustard oil in a big bowl, mix well. Add the chopped cabbage and green peas, sprinkle in the salt, another hearty mix.
- Take a piece of banana leaf, add a small portion of cabbage and peas mixture in the middle.
- Wrap the banana leaf from all four sides to make a parcel, secure with twine. (Or if you are in a hurry and want a shortcut, use tooth-picks instead to secure the parcels.)
- Add ½ tbsp mustard oil to a flat pan, gently place the banana leaf parcels on the pan, cover with a lid and cook over a low flame for 12-15 minutes.
- Serve hot with steamed rice.