What is food if it does not bring memories? This dish also brings some of the happy memories of my childhood. There was a time when we had a fish pond at the back of our house. Come the winter, the elders will be busy in fishing with fishing nets. It was a grand affair. The people from my hometown share a great love for fishes and everything related to fishing. Almost everyone had a fishing pond or had a share in someone else’s pond.
On the fishing day, neighbors will gather around the pond to see the catch or to simply to enjoy the fishing. Friends of our uncles will help in fishing and it was a matter of equal partnership in the catch. Those were the days of endless laughter, lots of chit chat and good food. Being children, we were not allowed to go deep in the pond, though the water would reach hardly our waist during winters. We were given the task to keep an eye on the catch so that nothing can lure a portion of the hard work. I could confess today that the view of throwing the fishing net into the water was so fascinating for us that we tried once or two thinking nobody was watching. But elders were more alert and we would be soon sent back home to clean up and patiently wait for the elders to come home. As soon as the fishing ended for the day, the catch was generally divided into equal portions among the partners and one large portion would be given to the neighbors to share the joy.
The fishes that we got was then divided according to the sizes. Some would be cooked instantly, some would be kept in a makeshift water tank for later usages and some would be smoked. The tiniest fishes were often grilled in banana leaves and savored by everyone as a side dish with lunch or dinner.
The fresh catch would give amazing flavor to the dish which is lacking in anything we have cooked thereafter. I don’t have a pond now and everything we eat comes from the nearby farmer’s market. I try to create the childhood magic but without the freshness and Chula (traditional ones), it is hard to get the exact flavor.
But the main aroma in this dish comes from the banana leaves. Though the taste varies from Chula to oven, yet the banana flowers compensate the loss. Anyways, do try the recipe in your microwave oven or gas. The dish won’t disappoint you, ever.
Patot Diya Mas
- Small fish, 150 gram
- Mustard paste, 1 teaspoon
- Ginger garlic paste, ½ teaspoon
- Onion, 1 medium, cut into thin slices
- Green chilies, according to your taste
- A dash of mustard oil
- Salt, according to taste
- Banana leaves
- Wash the fishes.
- Mix everything with the fishes and keep aside for 10 minutes.
- Wrap up the fish in banana leaves and make a parcel.
- Now cook in the microwave oven at high for 8-10 minutes.
- Once cooled, open the parcel and mash them to make small balls.
- Serve as a side dish.