This is another of those traditional Malabar recipes that is getting endangered and should be on a protected list..They were (and maybe still) are so commonplace in our houses but you might be more familiar with it through the travel cookery shows in Kerala where they are deemed exotic and laborious.
Pathiri is a term used loosely in Malabar region of Kerala to mean roti/chappathi/ or flatbread. The prefix of the word" pathiri" decides what kind it is..godumbu pathiri is made of godambu,i.e.wheat, ari pathiri is made of rice flour, erachi pathiri, has erachi /meat stuffed in it, meen pathiri has meen,/fish stuffed in it and so on.
This fish pathiri is made with Kng fish/Aikora or with Mackarel/ Aila or even with Sardines/ Mathi. When pressed for time, I have made this with canned tuna, canned sardines and it tastes passably good.
Traditionally, the fish steaks are marinated lightly in a paste of red chili powder, turmeric and salt. They are then shallow fried and removed before they turn too crisp. Then the fish is deboned and cut into small pieces and made into a stuffing along with onions, chillies, curry leaves and toasted coconut. The filling is laid between two pathiri/flatbread or rotis made of rice flour, wrapped in the plantain leaves so easily available from the backyard garden and then steamed.
Some people add tomatoes to the mixture but my mom doesn't and so I got used to the taste without it. I make it either way and like both tastes. It is entirely optional and you could try it either way too. The mix should be semi dry.... too dry makes the filling spill out and too wet make the rice cover soggy. This time, my filling turned out to be a bit drier than expected as I was on the phone chatting with my folks while making it.:) We make it as pies and for ease of eating as small half moon shaped ones too, similar to the sweet ada.
But they are not hard to make and for those who like fish, it is a a very healthy dinner or snack filled with protein, and steamed not fried! This is one of the items on the Iftar menu but I didn't get around to posting it earlier. Even now the photos don't do justice to the spicy taste of it
You will need: this makes about 3-4 pies or 10 adas
For the filling:
Onion- 3 medium sized ones( use some shallots for more flavor)
Tomato-1 small sized one( optional)
Green chilies- 4-5
Ginger Garlic Paste- 1 tsp
Red chili powder-3/4 to 1 tsp as per taste
Coriander powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- 3 sprigs
Salt to taste
Oil- 2-3 tbsp
For dry roast:
Coconut grated-1/2 cup
Shallots-4 small ones chopped
Fennel seeds/Saunf-1 tsp
To Marinate The Fish:-
King Fish/ Mackerel or Pomfret-6-7 pieces
Red chili powder 2 tsp
Turmeric powder 1 tsp
Salt as required
Oil to fry
Wash the fish , toss with lemon juice and wash again. Marinate in the red chili powder, turmeric powder and salt for an hour at least and then shallow fry it in vegetable oil. Don't let it get too brown and crispy..... the idea is to just cook the fish, not deep fry it. Drain, and remove the bones and skin and shred the fish.
In a cast iron skillet or a heavy bottom pan, dry roast the ingredients specified above, all together on very low heat till the coconut gives out its aroma and starts turning brown at the edges. Take it off the flame and pulse in a dry grinder to powder it coarsely. No water is to be added.
Heat oil and saute onion and green chillies. When the onion becomes transparent, add ginger-garlic paste and then the coriander powder, chili powder, garam masala and turmeric powder.( If you are adding tomatoes, add them at this point and cover and cook for 5 minutes or till the tomatoes look pulpy and add salt. Stir and sauté till the whole mixture gives out oil and moves as one mass in the pan.) Add the fish to the onion mix and stir together on medium heat. When there is just enough moisture in the fish masala as needed for the filling, add the coarsely ground coconut, finely shredded curry leaves, salt and mix well. Taste and adjust as needed. Remove from flame and keep aside.
The rice paste:
Rice flour- 2 cup
Water- 2 cup
Salt- 3/4 tsp
Fennel seed powder- ½ tsp
Coconut milk powder - 2- 3 tsp (or use ¼ cup coconut ground with little water)
Traditionally, parboiled rice is soaked in hot boiling water for 4 hours and then washed with cold water and ground along with coconut and fennel seeds using very little water to a semi-wet paste. Instead, I use rice flour and coconut milk powder.
Spread the flour along with the fennel powder and coconut milk powder in a wide bowl. Heat 1 1/2 cup water with salt till it boils and pour into the rice flour. Stir once with a fork and cover for 5 minutes. Pour 1/2 cold water to cool it down. Knead it into a soft sticky dough.
This is traditionally steamed in banana leaves, but since I didn't have any handy, I used parchment paper. You might find banana leaves in Asian stores frozen section..defrost and soak it in boiling water to soften it and then use it for wrapping.
Cut parchment paper into suitable size squares. Place a big orange size ball on the paper and flatten it with the heel of the hand (like doing karate chops) to avoid sticking to the hand. If that is difficult, place another parchment paper over it and roll it with a rolling pin to a pathiri circle..how wide is upto you.. the thickness should not be too much.. Remove the top paper carefully. Leave the pathiri on the banana leaf/parchment. Make another similar sized flat pathiri. Place the filling on the first pathiri leaving a half inch trim along the edges. Place the second pathiri on it and then press down on the edges with your fingers to seal the pie. Cover the whole pie with parchment paper tightly or with banana leaf and then steam in your steamer for about 10-15 minutes. Remove them from the steamer and peel off the parchment paper.
Check out Priya's kitchen for a wonderful description of the ada with emphasis on steaming and parchment paper.
For steaming, use a steamer or rice cooker or any large vessel half filled with water. Place a colander or a steamer basket over the water when the water boils and reduce heat to medium. Place the adas in the basket, cover it and cook for 7-10 minutes. Let it cool down before serving.
This one was made at another time and has tomatoes in it.. the textures is also a little moister.
Shab's Meen Pathiri