Bombay's Parsi community excels in fish cookery, and Patrani Machi is their signature dish. (The Parsis are a sect that was driven out of Persia in the ninth century and settled in India's western coastal region.) Traditionally, this dish is made with hilsa, a local fish known for both its rich flavor and its innumerable bones, and is steamed in banana leaves. I have found that salmon fillets make a flavorful, appealing, and convenient substitute. I also prefer to use edible wrappers, such as lettuce (you can also use spinach, swiss chard, cabbage, and taro leaves). This dish is traditionally served with steamed rice, but is also good with a light pilaf such as Lemon Pilaf. It can be made ahead and served straight from the refrigerator as a first course.
1-1/2 pounds boneless and skinless salmon fillets
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 to 4 green chiles, stemmed (depending on desired level of heat)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup (highly packed) fresh coriander
(cilantro) leaves and tender stems
1/4 cup (highly packed) mint leaves
Coarse salt to taste
8 large lettuce leaves, blanched and trimmed
2 tablespoons finely chopped toasted almonds
1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely minced lemon zest
1. Cut the fish into 4 serving portions and set aside.
2. Rinse the coconut under warm running water and drain. Combine the coconut, garlic, chiles, lemon juice, fresh coriander, and mint in the work bowl of a food processor and process until minced. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the salt. Add the fish and toss well to coat.
3. Place 2 lettuce leaves on a work surface, overlapping them slightly. Place 1 piece of fish on top of the lettuce leaves, fold in the sides, and close up into a neat package. Prepare the remaining pieces the same way. Transfer the packages to a steamer rack or put 2 packages in each of 2 bamboo steamer trays. Steam until the fish is just cooked, about 6 minutes.
4. To serve, transfer the fish packets to warm dinner plates and open leaves.
Introduction to Indian Cooking
By Julie Sahni
Ten Speed Press
Full-color photo inserts
Recipe Reprinted by permission.
This page created January 1999
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