Saturday, May 2, 2015

Fish Steamed In Bottle Gourd Leaves

Sometimes the most delicious dishes also happen to be the ones that do not need much of an effort. Like what I cooked for lunch the other day. Steamed fish with very little spices, cocooned between the dark green leaves of the bottle gourd. The vine is almost done with bearing gourds but I have used the leaves  and shoots in several ways. Like adding them to dal, to vegetable dishes, to dried fish and shrimp or in making hon.

Some time back I had made a similar kind of recipe with pumpkin leaves. But since the gourd leaves are still doing well in my backyard I used them this time. Fish wrapped in banana leaves is popular in our region and even in other parts of our country. But with pumpkin or bottle gourd leaves, nothing needs to be discarded. In fact the leaves taste so much better than being added to other vegetables.

I lined the colander with a piece of banana leaf to hold the juices...just in case

4 fish fillets (any large fish will do)
8 gourd leaves ( I doubled the leaves to hold the juices better)
2 tbs mustard sauce from a store-bought bottle
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 green chillies, scored lengthwise
1 tsp ginger/garlic juice
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder, as per your choice
2 tsp vegetable oil
Large pinch of chilli powder to enhance the colour (optional)
1 dinner plate size banana leaf

The ginger/garlic juice can be omitted as the bottled mustard sauce is packed with flavour but I was frying chicken for my son as he does not like fish, and simply squeezed some of the juice from the paste I was making at that point in time. I usually use fresh mustard but my sister uses the bottled one and loves it so that's how this recipe came about.
Put a pot on the gas. Fill it halfway with water.
Place a colander on the pot and line it with banana leaf.
Tie a long strip of wet cloth between the point where the pot meets the colander.
Rub the fish fillets with turmeric and salt.
Mix the rest of the spices and seasoning with the onion slices.
Pour the oil and give it a good stir.
Add the fish pieces. Mix gently.
Take one leaf and place the fish (covered with the mix) in the middle.
Fold inwards till the fish is covered. Take another leaf and do the same.
The idea is to get a little more of the greens by using two leaves.:)
Place the packet on the banana leaf with that side down where the folds end.
Continue with the rest of the fish and the leaves.
Cover the colander with a lid and steam for about 20 minutes on medium flame.
Remove the packets to a serving dish. Pour the juices that have spilled into the banana leaf on the dish.
This dish goes best with rice.
I used our traditional method of steaming. This can easily done in an oven in a bain marie.

Mustard sauce goes best with hilsa and here's the link to that recipe I posted earlier.
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