Parsi delicacy: Patra ni Macchi

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I found banana leaves at our local Whole Foods store (international section). I was thrilled – at that instant I knew I wanted to make “Patra ni Macchi” –  Parsi dish which basically is fish cooked in a banana leaf. I was thinking (aka drooling) about it since the last few weeks since my parents recently enjoyed a delicious Parsi meal (Patra ni Macchi, dhansaak etc.) at a local restaurant back in India. Don’t be scared of banana leaves if you haven’t used them before. They are totally benign and easy to use! They can fold into a perfect parcel to bake and impart a mild flavor to the fish while keeping the fish moist. Trust me, try it!

The green chutney (marinade) is the star of this dish. The freshness from the mint, spiciness from the green chillies,  and freshly grated coconut  along with fresh ginger, garlic and lemon blend together to create a balance, delicate yet lasting flavor.

My sister and I love our mom’s “green” dishes — green fish or green chicken (as we used to call them). They are simple recipes using the green chutney as a marinade for whole-baked/fried pomfret or Malvani chicken in a green sauce.

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Patra ni Macchi is traditionally steamed but I decided to bake it in the oven. The banana leaf wraps all the moisture and locks in the flavor. I used no oil/butter so definitely a healthy way of cooking fish.

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Adapted from: myMom’s recipe

Patra ni Macchi

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound tilapia fillet (or other white-fish)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 6 Garlic cloves
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated coconut (or thawed frozen coconut)
  • 6 (thai) green chillies or to taste
  • lemon juice to taste
  • 1-2 banana leaves (if available)
  • kitchen twig

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 deg F.
  • Rinse the fish fillet in running wash. Pat dry. Make deep cuts in the fillet with knife. Cut out pieces as per desired serving size.
  • Marinate with salt and turmeric powder. Keep aside.
  • In a blender grind – coconut, ginger, garlic, green chillies, mint and cilantro leaves to make a green chutney. Add salt and lemon juice to taste.
  • Pour the green chutney over the fish and let it marinate for 10-15 mins. (Leave it in the refrigerator longer if desired).
  • Cut a piece of the banana leave double the size of the fish fillet. Wrap each individual fish in the leaf cut-out, tie with a twig and arrange in an oven proof dish. Repeat the process until all the fillets are wrapped in leaves.
  • If banana leaves are not available the fish marinated in the green chutney can be directly placed in an oven proof dish. Cover the dish with foil to prevent the fish from getting overcooked.
  • Place the dish in the oven and set the timer for 20-30 mins.
  • Check if the fish is cooked aka “flaky”.
  • Before serving sprinkle some lemon juice and enjoy.

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