Patra ni Macchi

2 09 2011

It’s the first Friday of the month, and that means it’s time for another Currypalooza!  This time, I got to choose the recipe, and I picked Patra ni Macchi, a dish traditionally served for Parsi weddings.  It’s a flavorful dish featuring cod marinated in a spicy, aromatic paste of coconut, chilies, and herbs.  The fish is then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.  It’s healthy, it’s quick, it’s easy, and best of all, it’s impressive.  Of course it comes from my favorite Indian cookbook, Miss Masala.  I wrote to Mallika Basu, the author, to ask her permission to reprint the recipe from her book, and she graciously gave it.

When I cooked this, I halved the recipe, since there were only three of us, and I substituted dried coconut (shredded, unsweetened) for the fresh.  It needed a little extra water, but no big deal.  I served it with a dish of my own invention – potatoes boiled with hot peppers, mashed, seasoned with turmeric and garam masala, mixed with some peas, then shaped into little patties and pan-fried.  The photo, I admit, is not great, due in part to the green-on-green nature of the dish, and in part to the extra long apéro hour before dinner.  But the gin and tonics were so refreshing, and, well, by the time we sat down to eat everyone was sufficiently… refreshed.

Patra ni Macchi

For dessert we had bowls of fresh mango sprinkled with vanilla salt and dolloped with yogurt.  It was a great summer meal that definitely transported us out of France for the evening.

Patra ni Macchi (Marinated cod steamed in banana-leaf parcels)
Reprinted with permission from Miss Masala by Mallika Basu

Feeds 6

6 cod fillets, skinned and all bones removed
6 large banana leaves
3 garlic cloves
6 fresh green finger chillies
6 Tbsp. fresh or frozen grated coconut
50g (2oz) fresh coriander leaves
25g (1oz) fresh mint leaves
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

  1. Wash each cod fillet well under cold running water, dabbing dry on kitchen paper.  Wash the banana leaves, taking care not to split the delicate fibres.
  2. Peel the garlic and, using a blender or food processor, purée into a paste with the remaining ingredients, adding salt to taste.  The marinade should be strong and punchy in every way.
  3. Place each fish fillet on a banana leaf and smother with the marinade.  Then wrap it as neatly as you can and set aside.  You don’t need to tie it with thread because the steaming process will seal the parcel shut.
  4. When you’re ready to eat, steam each banana leaf parcel for 7-10 minutes, open side facing down, using a steamer, or a colander covered with a pan lid and placed over a large pan of boiling water.  The fish should be moist but cooked through. (Open just one parcel first to check if cooked.)
  5. This is a wonderful way to impress guests and can be eaten alongside Parsi Brown Rice.  Or serve with Khichdi for a super-healthy meal.

Check out the other Currypalooza posts for this month:

More Please by Margie
Sage Trifle
Ann Mah

* * * * *

More bits and bobs from around the web for your weekend reading enjoyment:

Remember back in May, when I was on the Katia and Kyliemac podcast?  Well, we recorded a third episode, which is now up for your listening pleasure.

Last weekend Nick and I joined Emiglia of Tomato Kumato on a hike and a picnic to mark the end of summer.  Though to tell the truth, it’s been downright summery the last few days, and I am not complaining.

I have a new recipe up on Girls’ Guide to Paris, this time for Apricot Swirl Ice Cream.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a happy hour to get to.  Happy Friday!

On this day in 2010: Cactus L.A. (In which I eat Mexican food three times in one day.)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.




13 responses

2 09 2011

That looks amazing! No matter the green-on-green action… Cooking Indian food has always scared me, but you are inspiring. Maybe that is a book I should pick up sometime soon? Because I need another reason to be in the kitchen instead of the lab…

2 09 2011

Thanks for choosing such a fun and flavorful recipe. I’ve never cooked with banana-leaves before so it was a new experience. And that herb paste was really amazing, and so versatile. I bet the gin & tonics were an excellent pairing with the herby & spicy meal. About your dessert… I’m so intrigued about vanilla salt!! I love all things vanilla and often use vanilla sugar but I’ve never encountered vanilla salt. Do you make your own?

3 09 2011

Aha! Now I know your actual answer to my gin and tonic question on the blog! “Create a wonderland of green deliciousness”. You clever tipsy thing you.

3 09 2011

The fish looks perfectly cooked despite the green color. Sounds delish! I have never cooked with banana leaves; something new to try.

3 09 2011

Your green on green dish looks spectacular. What a delicious dish you chose for our little event. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next!

4 09 2011

researchingparis – It is definitely a book you need. I use it often, and it’s really helped demystify Indian cooking for me.

Margie – Yes, I make the vanilla salt myself. It’s as simple as scraping a vanilla bean into some salt. I use fleur de sel, but any coarse sea salt would work.

Hannah – And a wonderland of green deliciousness it was. On and unrelated note, I had a dream last night that you were actually the star of a massively popular Australian TV show.

Michel – It was. I think steaming is a pretty forgiving cooking method, plus the banana leaves and the herb paste helped keep the fish very moist.

Rocquie – Me, too! It’s a really fun event!

4 09 2011
Anna Johnston

Mmmm, looks delicious. The fish looks to be cooked to perfection. 🙂 Go the green. And dessert sounds amazing, where do I find Vanilla Salt?

4 09 2011

But that’s the truth! Australia itself only exists to showcase me. It’s like The Truman Show, except with more chocolate.

4 09 2011
hungry dog

I really like the photo. That vibrant green makes me want to dig in. Sounds like a great dinner, and that dessert is very interesting! Vanilla salt?!

5 09 2011

I love the combination of herbs, fish and coconut. I can’t wait to try this!

6 09 2011

Anna – I think you can find it in specialty shops, but it’s much easier (and probably cheaper) to make your own! I described the process above.

Hannah – Delusions of grandeur, much? 🙂

hungry dog – As I said to Nick, “this is what you get when you have two drunken pastry chefs making dessert on a whim.”

Ann – I think you’ll love it!

7 10 2011

What a lovely, vibrant green. I’m so sorry I’m commenting on this so late. I took a really long break from cyberspace 😉
I especially like your complements to the meal. The mashed potato cakes you made are pretty close to ‘aloo ki tikki’ – great thinking!

11 10 2011

Grapefruit – Hooray! And hey, I understand. We all need a break every now and then. 🙂

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