Patra ni machi

Patra ni Machi is a popular dish in the Parsi cuisine. You will find this dish in every ceremony or celebration. Patra ni machi is a mouth-watering dish - fish coated with green chutney (made from coriander leaves, green chillies, coconut, cumin seeds and lemon juice), wrapped in banana leaf and steamed. I have used whole pomfret fish and also individual steaks. During the steaming process, flavours of the chutney get infused into the fish giving it a fine texture, softness and aroma. It will be very good to impress and to serve as members of the family and friends will each get wrapped banana parcel and when opened, hot and steamed fish full of aroma and scrumptious tender flavour will invite to eat.

Preparation time: 15 mins (excluding marination time)

Cooking time: 40 mins

Cuisine: Parsi

Spiciness: Medium

Serves: 1-2 (depends on the size of the fish)

Ingredients

  • Pomfret – 1 whole fish (small) or 4 medium size steaks
  • For chutney

  • Coriander leaves (with thin stalks) – 1 cup
  • Green chillies – 2
  • Garlic (big cloves) – 2
  • Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
  • Lemon juice (big) – 1/2
  • Sugar (optional) – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - as per taste
  • Fresh coconut (grated) – 1/2 cup

Method

  • Wash and clean the whole fish and pat dry. Make 2 to 3 slits on the fish. Marinate the fish with little salt and 1 tbsp lemon juice for about 1/2 hr.
  • Grind coriander leaves, green chillies, cumin seeds, garlic cloves, coconut, salt and lemon juice together to make a smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Marinate the fish with the green chutney and keep in the refrigerator for 2 hrs or more. Remove it about 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Wash and clean the banana leaves and pat dry. Remove the stems on the banana leaves and trim the sides. Take a banana leaf and wilt it on low flame by slowly passing the leaf over fire from one end to the other on gas fire. This will make banana leaf more flexible in folding and will not tear much. As soon as you pass the banana leaf on fire, you can see the colour changes and becomes soft.
  • Place the pomfret fish and smear some paste on it. Close the ends of the banana leaf, wrap like a parcel. To make it safer, I sometimes wrap it with aluminium foil (double wrapping), so that the banana leaf does not tear or tie it with a thread or wrap firmly.
  • Steam the fish in a steamer or like me, in an idli vessel. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes according to the size of the fish.
  • Instead of whole pomfret fish, I have also used pomfret fish steaks, so that you can make small individual banana parcels. For individual fish steaks, it will take 10 to 12 mins, again according to the size of the steaks.
  • Instead of the steamer, you can bake the fish whole in the oven for about 20 to 25 mins at 200 degrees celcius (according to the size of the fish). Alternatively, frying on a tava on both sides for few minutes also works.
  • Serve hot patra ni macchi, when ready to eat.

Notes

  • Add green chillies as per their level of heat.
  • For the green chutney, you can use lime or lemon juice.
  • Each time I prepare the chutney, the colour varies from bright green to dark green. It is because sometimes coconut is slightly more or sometimes it is coriander leaves that becomes slightly more. You can see the difference in the picture.
  • Always taste the chutney before you marinate so that you can add or check the seasoning to adjust the taste.

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