Ilish Macher Paturi of Bangladesh

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Oh Banana leaves, oh Banana leaves, how beautiful you make this dish.

My first experience using these large, heavy-duty leaves made this meal memorable and fun. As I placed the wrapped bundle of fish fillets in the cast iron skillet, waiting patiently for it to cook, I was giddy with excitement at the potential flavors that were ahead of me.

And truly, I have never tasted a dish like this. The banana leaves cooked the fish perfectly and changed the flavor of the dish. But beyond the exotic wrapping paper, the prominence of mustard was the other influential character in this story. I’m a mustard person. I like it more than ketchup. I like using it in recipes, and slathering it on my sandwich. Perhaps my most telling piece of evidence is I always choose to be Colonel Mustard when I play a game of Clue. But this was a whole new level of that yellow condiment we all know.

When I say mustard, don’t think of that summertime brat with a squiggle of yellow paste, for it isn’t your typical “American” mustard flavor. The combination of mustard oil and mustard powder was almost overpowering to me, with absolutely no sweetness to hinder it. Raw, unapologetic. I should probably stop what I’m doing, channel my inner Draper, and sell mustard for a living.

If you’re looking for a truly novel experience of flavor, process of cooking, and shopping, I recommend this dish. You’ll have to go to that international market to find banana leaves (probably, unless your market is already culturally diverse), and this dish is bold. And clearly, this dish inspired me.


Ingredient List

  • Hilsa (fish)
  • Banana leaves
  • Mustard powder
  • Turmeric powder
  • Red chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Mustard oil
  • Green chilies

Quick Quotes

S: “Quite an exciting experience. Mustard breaks out of its American stereotype – the banana leaves makes it feel authentic.”

T: “Interesting – I’ve never had anything like it. The mustard is so prominent, and I liked making and eating it!”

Trivial Trifles

  • The capital of Bangladesh is Dhaka
  • The official language is Bengali
  • Three rivers, some of the largest in Asia, flow through Bangladesh – the Ganges (also known as Padma), Brahmaputra (or Jamuna), and Meghna – and form the largest delta in the world, the Bengal delta. There are approximately 700 rivers in Bangladesh
  • It is also home to most of the world’s largest mangrove forest, Sundarbans
  • It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, alongside South Korea and Monaco




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