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Five yummy tummy recipes at their death's door ! Why not revamp them !!

Updated on September 25, 2014

The Famous five !!

  1. Fish Paturi - Grilled fish wrapped in Banana leaf
  2. Dhakai Crab - Dungeness crab cooked in Mustard paste
  3. Shukto - This bitter sweet medley of vegetables makes an appearance at every Bengali festivity. It's the first thing that gets wiped off the plate and is usually served with rice.
  4. Fish Kabiraji - Fish fillets coated in beaten egg and breadcrumbs are deep fried to get this exotic Bengali delicacy.
  5. Patisapta - Thin crepes made with refined flour, rice flour and semolina. Stuffed with a tasty coconut and jaggery filling.

The Rich Cook Book of Bengal

Little did we know with the dying recipes if not the 'legacy' but part of a culture hub undoubtedly goes to the drains.Today my space speaks of the dying recipes belonging to this fertile slice of land called Bengal.Bengal is pinned on the globe as a geographical and ethno-linguistic region in South Asia.Apart from my preface,the Oscar won Filmmaker Satyajit Ray was the pioneer to make this land famous globally what say !! Growing as a true blue Bengali the fetish for fish,having 'a thing' for mustard based sauce,how much more you hog,by discarding the rice element from your stomach makes you hungry forever,fad for sweets as Bengalis forget to eat their rice once the eyes gets caught by the sight of 'Rosogolla' and the fixation of chicken being considered as poor man's meat thereby Mutton is Bengali's only meat feasted upon.In the 21st century when the whole world craves for world cuisines,vegan food,organic recipes a large portion of Bengalis residing outside their homeland or even on their own soil have stopped flipping through iconic Bengali recipes thus making a dead by choice cook book.Well this blog is not about the shortcomings of Bengali cuisines as it may say, yet tugging five modify versions of the much-loved killer recipes of Bengal.

Fish is on a wrapped up spa !!

The Introduction

Fish Paturi means fish marinated with spices wrapped in banana leaves, traditionally roasted or smoked in charcoal fire, how exotic !! The original recipe originated from Dhaka, the sister-concern of Bengal.Later it has become a signature dish of Bengali cuisine.The use of banana leaf is prevalent in Asian cooking mostly in Thai cuisine where chicken meals are wrapped in banana leaves,even the Caribbean's do so.More so the Parsi community's similar dish called Patra-ni-machhi has a banana leaf bias.

The Twist - Steamed or Baked / Aluminium foil instead of Banana leaf

The technique of getting the fish smoked on charcoal is no doubt fulfilling as the flavour of smoky charcoal enters into the fish.But it seems time-taking and laborious to set up a charcoal fire in our urban kitchen.Instead we can eat it steamed or baked using our double-boiler/ Oven .Situations where people living in USA,UK or any other location where banana leaf is not available in the market, it can be replaced with aluminium foil .Believe me I have tried with the above approach and it turned out really well !! The slant will not degrade the flavour, I can vouch for that.A fresh catch submerged in a mustard paste adding a dash of mustard oil,making it sit for steaming or baking itself will take out the sweetness of the fish balancing with the pungency of mustard sauce leaving an after taste.Just the sniff of a smoky banana leaf is emitted.This much change will not hamper the essence of the dish.The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it.

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 40 min
Yields: 6-7

Practically Any White Fish Will Pass !!

  • 500 grms Fish steak, Ideally Bhetki or Hilsa is used.You can use Tilapia/Lates Calcarifer/Basa/Sole fish
  • 1 tblsp Black Mastard seeds
  • 1 tblsp Yellow Mastard seeds
  • 1 tsp Poppy Seed Paste
  • 1 tblsp Grated Coconut made into a paste
  • 4 pc Green Chillies, According to your taste palate
  • 1tsp Lemon juice
  • 1tsp Turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tblsp Mustard oil, Try not to substitute mustard oil with any other oil.Canola oil/groundnut oil also works.

Baked or Steamed !!

  1. Wash and dry the Fish Steak, cut into 8 to 10 pieces, keep aside
  2. In a Blender add Mustard seeds, coconut, greens chillies and a pinch of salt
  3. Make it a smooth paste by adding little water from time to time Add turmeric powder and lime juice to it Add salt as required and finally make a smooth marinade
  4. Dip the Fish pieces into the marinade and rub them with fingers Leave the marinated fish for 30 minutes in room temperature.
  5. Once the marination is done, now pour in the mustard oil to it and mix it well
  6. Now cut a square size of aluminium foil .Fix a piece of Fish at the center and add some marinade on it.Place one green chilli on top of it then wrap it well into a parcel.
  7. Now heat water in a steamer or double boiler.Add the parcels to the steaming rack.Steam it for 10-15 mins. Bake it in preheated oven on 450 degree for 15 -20 mins.
  8. Open the foil and serve it piping hot with steamed rice !!

Crab Dhakai

In the whole 365 days, humans all over the world consume 1.5 ton millions crabs.Studies have found there are almost 5000 species of crabs,eaten by different cultures in all varied ways.Today I am taking about a species which grows in the grasslands of Bengal.They are small in size, unlike the king red crabs,yet similar to light-blue soldier crabs found in Singaporean and even Australian cuisines.Crabs in Bengali are called 'Kakra', the particular species I am taking is called 'Telo Kakra' extreamly tasty and juicy.I dont think there is any English name to it.Our sister concern 'Dhaka' makes a delicacy with this soft shell crab that can be eaten whole including the shell.For those who lack Indian history 'Dhaka' was a part of Bengal before the 'Partion of Bengal' in 1905.I found its distant relative on the west coast of the US (and my favorite) is the Dungeness crab. Named after the town in Washington state where it was first commercially harvested, this medium sized, salt water crab averages about 7 inches in width.Coming back to the recipe the supreme ingredient is Mustard and Nigella seeds.So todays recipe gets the name from the original influence doors of 'Dhaka' nonetheless you can use any variety of crabs available at your nearest farmers market.

Crabbing away !!

No need for crab mallets !!

Serves 4-5 Preparation time - 20 mins Cooking time - 25 mins


  • 2 Dungeness crabs steamed
  • 4 tblsp of mustard paste
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1tsp of nigella seeds
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4-5 green chillies chopped or slit
  • Mustard oil or Canola oil
  • salt


  1. Wash and clean the crabs,detach the legs,claws and break the claws in halves, cut the body in 4 parts.Rub with turmeric and and Salt.Keep it aside.
  2. Heat the oil.Fry the crabs till it changes colour and set aside.
  3. Then throw the nigellla seeds in the oil, getting the crackling sound add garlic,mastard paste,turmeric and stir well.Now add the coconut milk , slitted green chilles, sprinkle salt and bring to boil.
  4. Add the fried crabs and simmer for 10-15 mins until the crab has thick coating of the sauce.
  5. Serve with Jasmine or Basmati rice !!

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1
Calories 352
Calories from Fat198
% Daily Value *
Fat 22 g34%
Saturated fat 9 g45%
Carbohydrates 18 g6%
Sugar 1 g
Fiber 2 g8%
Protein 22 g44%
Cholesterol 59 mg20%
Sodium 616 mg26%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Some interesting facts about Crabs

  • Two minerals : Selanium & Chromium are particularly rich in crabs.Selanium is an anti-oxidant that has cancer preventing properties.
  • Chromium helps insulin metabolize sugar so it is really good for diabetic patients.
  • Crab meat has the same cholesterol content as Chicken

Veggies are yum too !!

A Medley of Veggies : Shukto

Shukto as the name says is a Bengali version of mixed vegetables cooked in milk and spiced in the flavour of wild celery seeds.The bitter gourd or karela is the key vegetable standing out in the dish.If your deter the bitterness of taste in a dish you can simply remove it.But we cook the gourd in such a way that the bitterness runs aways.This bitter vegetable originated on the Indian subcontinent which was introduced to China in the 14th century.So those residing outside the tropical belts will not get access to this veggie.Believe me there are other delicious ones that add to this recipes's glory like Sweet potatoes,egg plants,white radish and many more.After trying this dish the hard core non-vegetarians may come down to this conclusion 'Veggies can be yum too !!'

Discard the high calorie ghee or clarified butter !!

Recipe Requirements serves 5-6 Preparation time - 15 mins Cooking time - 15 mins .

  • Raw green Banana
  • 1 cup of green papaya
  • 1/2 white radish
  • Drumsticks cut roughly 1/2 inch ( optional )
  • Sweet Potato
  • Brinjal or Egg plant
  • Ridge gourrd
  • Bitter gourd
  • Lentil dumplings or Wadi
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • Sugar
  • Fennel powder
  • Instead of Ghee or Clarified butter change to Canola oil.

For Tempering - Bay leaves,wild celery seeds,grated ginger

For the Paste - 1 tsp Yellow Mustard paste


  1. Chop all the veggies in equal proportional length.Equal pieces help in equal cooking.
  2. Heat up the kadai,add oil.Fry the lentil dumplings and keep it aside.Medium fry all the veggies.Except the bitter gourd,fry it seperatly so that the bitterness doesnot spread.
  3. Now add the wild celery seeds,bay leaf and grated ginger.Add all the remaining veggies together with 2 cups of water.Season with salt and cover it up.The veggies that cooks fast like egg plant,ridge gourd can be added later.It should cook for 5-10 mins.
  4. After a while when water gets absorbed and all the veggies are soft add the mastard paste and milk.
  5. Lastly drop the fried dumplings, giving a finishing touch of sugar into the curry.Keep the dish little runny as lentil dumplings would soak up the gravy.
  6. Take it off from the heat and sprinkle fennel powder, mixing it well.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Bengali Fish Fillets:Fish Kabiraji

'Kabiraji' are the fish fillets coated in beaten egg and breadcrumbs are deep-fried making it an exotic snackydelicacy.I feel this dish can compete with the legendary Fish and chips of the Brits.Probably this mouth-watering appetizer has suffered with its ratings for the rise of the calorie conscious crowd, the idea of deep frying the fillets till they brown both its sides had taken away its yester-years popularity.Never-mind I have come up to your rescue bringing a slight change in the technique: Instead of deep frying we will do pan frying and then we can put in into the oven.The rest is taken care by its perfect blend of flavours.It can be served in parties with mixed green salads and chips.Oh yes how can I forget Fish Kabiraji can be dipped in your homemade tartar sauce.

Note: Substitute the fish with boneless pieces of chicken breasts, beaten flat for Chicken Kabiraji, same goes for Prawn and Mutton as well.

Fish Kabiraji Vs Fish&Chips

Cast your vote for Fish Kabiraji

The Snack-Bar Opens

Serves 4 Preparation time - 10 mins Cooking time - 15 mins


  • 500 gms(8 pc) Fish Fillets You can use Indian Bhetki or Cod instead.
  • 4 green chilles
  • 100 gms onion paste
  • 8 eggs
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 25 gms of ginger paste
  • 250 gms breadcrumbs
  • 4 tblsp Canola oil
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • 100gms gram flour or Besan
  • salt


  1. Wash the fish fillets properly. Soak the fish in salt, lemon juice for about 10 minutes. Wash it over and wipe dry.
  2. Marinate the fish with onion,garlic,green chillies,coriander and mint paste.Sprinkle salt as per the taste.
  3. Mix the gram flour with salt.Drop it over the marinated fish
  4. Heat some oil in the pan, beat the eggs with a pinch of salt.
  5. Take each fillet and dip it in the egg mixture.Then sprinkle it with breadcrumbs.
  6. Pan fry the fillets till they golden brown on both sides.Take it out, drain the excess oil with the use of tissue napkins.
  7. Slide it inside a pre-heated oven for 10 mins in 220 degrees.
  8. Serve hot with your regular salad and your choice of dips.

The Best Fish/Chicken/Mutton/Prawn Kabiraji was fried here!!

Coffee House,College Street,Kolkata.
Coffee House,College Street,Kolkata.

Bengali Crepes:Patisapta

The Indian Dolce 'Patisapta' as it is called are thin crepes made with refined flour,rice flour and semolina.Stuffed with tasty coconut and jaggery filling.The desert is a seasonal one carries a lovely history.It is cooked during a harvest festival day in India.Traditionally it is one of the day in which fresh rice is harvested in the villages and the ladies would prepare this delicacy made with rice.Another time it is prepared during the winters when fresh date palm jaggery is extracted by the village folks.Jaggery made of palm date is the most delicious yet has a lingering subtle flavour.I am not making any hyperbolic statement here you have to try it out to believe.Assuming Bengalis relocating to other destination for a better living completely fail to recall this special time of the year.The let-slip moments have resulted in the dying interest to prepare this Bengali version of crepes or Frankie as you may love to name it.!

The Remake

With Condensed Milk as the topping.
With Condensed Milk as the topping.

Serves 6 Preparation time - 10 mins Cooking time - 40 mins


For the crepes

  • I cup of refined all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1 1/2 cups - 2 cups double toned
  • oil to cook the crepes

For the Filling

  • 3 cup desiccated coconut
  • 2 tblsp of caster sugar (if jaggery is unavailable)
  • 1 tsp green cardamom powder

or if you want to avoid Coconut filling at all you can include:

  • condensed milk
  • home-made strawberry crush
  • Blueberry sauce.


For the crepes

  • Take the flour,rice flour and semolina in a mixing bowl,
  • Add milk mixing it well, without forming lumps, keep the mixture for half an hour
  • Heat the non-stick pan, pour little oil .Pour a thin layer of mixture on it ,spread it quickly using a ladle.
  • Put the filling lengthwise at the centre , rolling it over.Let both the sides get the golden brown hue.
  • Place the rolled crepe on a plate.People who do not want to use the coconut filling can pour condensed milk on the rolled crepes.
  • People loving the fruity options can use them inside as a filling.

Coconut Filling

  • In a wok place the grated coconut,sugar or jaggery(if in case you get)
  • Add cardamom into it.
  • keep stirring the mixture as it gets sticky.Sugar will caramelise so be careful.Simmer the heat otherwise it may burn.Coconut has the tendency to burn easily so be careful while cooking.Same goes for jaggery.You have to add little water to it.As jaggery tends to burn getting exposed to the heat.The process will take 10-15 mins.After which switch off the heat.Let the mixture cool before assembling the filling with the crepes.

(click column header to sort results)
Dish/serving size -1  
Average Fat/g  
Average Calories  
Fish Paturi
Dhakai Crab
Fish Kabiraji
Patisapta or Crepes

The noble laureate Rabindra Tagore,the Reformer Mother Terresa,the Oscar Winner Satyajit Ray were lads and lass of the city

Kolkata,the capital city of West Bengal
Kolkata,the capital city of West Bengal | Source

If you wanna know more just Google in !!

west bengal:
West Bengal, India

get directions


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