Thursday, December 12, 2013

Patrani Machhi - A Parsi Delicacy

It has been a few months since I have posted a recipe here. Life has been crazy busy. Cooking / Baking has become more of a lifesaver than anything else.  Between the daily chores I seldom find  time for clicking a photograph of something which came out well, forget step by step pictures. The recipe I am posting today does not have step by step pictures either, all I have is my Phone camera and no time to watermark the pictures so please let me know if anyone at all wants to use my photos.

I have a colleague; no actually she is more of a friend than a colleague, one of the very few people from work who is actually a friend, S. One fanatic about her diet, people will find her in the Cafeteria 3-4 times a day, munching on iceberg lettuce, faking that they taste heavenly! She is very generous, whenever you walk in, she will be more than happy to offer you the bland lettuce or boiled drumsticks or steamed broccoli with rock salt, which by the way I am fond of.

So it happened, one afternoon, when she was trying to reach me frantically, to meet and eat lunch together, the reason being she had got Fish which her Mom had prepared and knew I would love it as I am a true blue Bong! I had no idea I was about to taste one of the most amazing Fish preparations, which by the way was not a Bengali preparation. Though very similar to the Paturi that we make minus the Mustard and plus a few other ingredients. She took out a gorgeous green Banana Leaf wrap, under whose folds lay, the Parsi Patrani Machhi! It was yummy Coconut-y considering it had about a cup of scraped blended Coconut in there & I totally love Coconut, we savored the dish in no time & this incident gave me the much awaited push I needed to knock out the plane-Jane Cook in me and make her prepare something worth dying for!

On Saturday night, I had asked a porter from the society where we live to get me a Banana leaf, he came next morning and delivered a washed and cleaned Banana Leaf (which he had actually stolen from the Society next to us as we did not have any Banana tree in ours: P). 

We had taken this Monday off and planned going out for lunch, however after the hullabaloo of the weekend and the blazing Sun, we decided to stay indoors. I had a couple of small Pomfrets sitting in the Freezer and asked A to get a Coconut & some other ingredients, he instantly agreed. I served this with Steamed Rice which we LOVED! Next Monsoon, when I have Hilsa at hand – I will make the same dish!

Ingredients to make Patrani Machhi (Serves 2)

·         2 small – medium Pomfrets (I used whole Pomfrets as they have less bones, fillets of Telapia, Pomfrets, Bhetki, Basa should be great too, I had made slits in the Pomfrets)
·         1 Banana leaf, washed and cleaned
·         Scrapped Coconut – 1 Cup
·         Coriander leaves – small bunch (add as much or as little you like)
·         Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
·         Garlic Cloves – 4 to 5
·         Lemon Juice – I used juice of half a Lemon
·         Green Chilies – 4 to 5 (add as much or as little you like)
·         Coconut Milk – 1 cup (increase or decrease the quantity according to the consistency of the chutney /paste that you are making. Many people omit this step and use plain water instead.
·         Salt to taste
·         Sugar to balance

How to make Patrani Machhi

·         Cut out the vein of the Banana leaf with a sharp knife after it is cleaned and washed. Fold it lightly and toss it around on the burner for a little while, till it starts to wilt a little, do not burn it. This will make sure that the Banana leaf is softer and easier to handle and not hard and brittle.

·         Put all the ingredients together in a blender besides the Fish & the Coconut Milk and start blending. Pour in the Coconut Milk a little at a time, to make it easier for the ingredients to blend, once desired consistency of the paste is reached, pour into a bowl and set aside. Note – this paste is not going to be runny, it needs to stay together and the quantity should be good enough to be eaten with steamed Rice. Taste the Paste at this stage; add anything that you need after you have done the taste test.

·         On the front side of the Fish pieces add generous amounts of the Paste and let it sit for 5 minutes.

·         Take pieces of the Banana Leaf, add a few spoonful’s of the paste and place the Fish on top, this way both the sides of the Fish will have enough paste to get the flavors.

·         Fold the sides of the Banana Leaves together and seal with toothpicks.

·         I used my Rice Cooker to steam these. One can boil water in a large container till bubbling and on a steel colander place the packed Fish and steam each side for 8-10 minutes. Note: I was using whole Fish, hence I steamed for more than normal; fillets can be steamed for 5 minutes on each side depending on the thickness.

·         If you managed to pack the Fish in the Banana Leaves well, then serve the whole thing on a plate with steamed Rice like I did, that’s the most authentic and traditional way of tasting this flavorful dish.

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