First off let me say a little bit about this “Steamed fish in banana leaf” recipe. Recently I’ve relocated to a small village near Mangalore, a coastal city on the border between Karnataka and Kerala states in South India. The city is well renowned in India for its cuisine, so what better place than this to learn how to cook some regional specialties and of course share the knowledge with the world :).

All the cooking is done by my father in law, Eddie and Savitri, the household cook. I just hold the camera and try to learn while I film the process :).

While the basics of the recipe are traditional to the region, there are some twists here and there, like the inclusion of yogurt and olive oil, the latter obviously not being native to these lands. I have intentionally not asked them to make any changes to their usual preparation. The reason for that is simple – their kitchen is just superb, so who am I to butt in and ask them to keep it strictly traditional?

The other reason for various fusions in my father in-law’s recipes is that he has spent many a years abroad, travelling, running restaurants in Qatar and the like. He’s a food buff and he takes what he likes and makes it his own. It also goes to show how customs and traditions are a in motion, continuous and ever changing.

You should be seeing more of these recipes around the site.

Oh and if you don’t have a banana leaf you can get your hands on… hmmm… maybe try using corn husks? Not really sure what to say 🙂

Ingredients for making Steamed Fish in Banana Leaf:

-A banana leaf
-Fresh fish (in our case the magnificent black pomfret)
-Masala: salt, turmeric, fenugreek, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red chilies, peppercorns, olive oil, yogurt, lemons.

Cooking process:

You can take a look at this handy YouTube video I created. It was my first one, so not the most professional looking, but hey I’ll get there, I’ll get there.

And for those of you who prefer it in writing:

1.) Select your favorite fish, clean them properly and cut it into smaller pieces, about two fingers thick and 15cm long.

Making the masala (basically the sauce):

1.) Briefly dry fry peppercorns, cumin seeds, fenugreek and coriander seeds for about 15-20 seconds.

2.) Repeat the process with chilies, only this time add a little bit of oil to the pan, so you don’t burn them.

3.) Transfer the spices and the chilies and grind them, using a grinder.

4.) Take a bowl and put the ground spices and chilies inside, add yogurt,
squeezed lemon juice, a dash of cornflour and a rather generous amount of olive oil.

5.) Using your hands, mix it all up together until you get a smooth textured masala (mixture).

6.) Add the fish pieces and coat them in the masala proper.

Putting it all together:

1.) Now for the banana leaf, you’ll want to expose it to some heat in order to soften its fibers. Why’s that, you ask? See, if you want to fold a banana leaf, it’s going to tear and a quick way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to briefly hold it over the stove, just like in the video above.

2.) Don’t forget to wipe the leaves clean after you’re done exposing them to the fire.

3.) Next, cut the leaf into smaller parts so you can individually wrap fish pieces inside. Just remove the central vein from the banana leaf and then cut it into smaller pieces, lay the fish inside and wrap it up, tucking the ends inwards.

4.) Now, get any dish that can steam food, put the banana leaf wraps inside and cover it.

5.) Steam the fish for approximately 45 minutes and you’re done! Now just unwrap it and enjoy your steamed fish in banana leaf.


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