Thursday, April 18, 2013

Baked...In Banana Leaves

Baked fish on the left and leafy veggies on the right
It had rained and the temperature came down by several degrees. Lighting a fire outside didn't seem like self-inflicted torture.:) And since some food taste best baked on hot coals with the flavour of smoke, I baked tiny fish wrapped in banana leaves. The leaves came from my backyard. I have a small clump of banana trees. The local name of the cultivar is Jahaji.  And since the packet was small and did not take much space I thought tender clerodendrum leaves could also go into the hot coals. Known as Mishimou in Dimasa, it translates to tiger's ears. Convenient way of naming, I must say. We also have Mojokhmou that translates to rat's ears but I'll be writing about that in a future post.
Clerodendrum colebrookianum
These leaves come from a shrub that grows to a height of 1.5 to 3 mtrs. The striking white blooms are loved by pollinators. In our region, this plant is believed to have medicinal properties. The leaves are used in traditional medicine for high blood pressure and for rheumatism. The leaves have a pungent smell but cooking changes all that. in fact, baked or steamed leaves are delicious.


The fish was wrapped in a banana leaf then covered with foil


Cooked! The leaves were also wrapped in the same manner
 The packets went into the hot coals for nearly twenty minutes. The clerodendrum leaves weren't kept that long.
Hooker chives/Alium hookeri
Several leaves from my potted chives went to the baked fish, chopped fine and with the addition of three roasted and chopped green chillies. Salt had been added earlier. The fish can be mashed or mixed with the garnishes. As for the clerodendrum leaves, only salt was added. This vegetable has its distinct smell and flavour. The addition of any spice would be akin to spoiling its taste.

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