Patrani macchi

Patrani macchi

Steamed fish in banana leaf

Mr Todiwala's Bombay
Helen Cathcart

This is a classical Parsee fish preparation and is very popular at weddings and other festive occasions. Banana leaves are available in some Asian stores. Alternatively, use squares of oiled foil or double-thickness greaseproof paper. You can also use the chutney to spread over fillets or whole fish before grilling. Use the large bunches of herbs available in Asian stores and markets, not little bags from a supermarket.


Quantity Ingredient
3 whole pomfrets or other plump flat fish such as seabass, cut in 2.5 cm thick steaks, through the bone
salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
banana leaves, as required
malt vinegar, for steaming


Quantity Ingredient
1 coconut, grated
or 200g desiccated coconut
1 large bunch coriander
4-5 green chillies
6-8 garlic cloves
1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 large lime or a small lemon, juiced
1 large bunch mint


  1. Rub each slice of fish with a little salt and the turmeric and set aside whilst you proceed with the chutney.
  2. If using desiccated coconut, mix it with 150 ml water and leave to soak for 1 hour until soft and rehydrated and the liquid is absorbed. Grind the coconut with all the remaining chutney ingredients in a food processor to a thick paste, adding a little more water if necessary. Do not use too much though, the mixture must not be too runny. Stop and scrape down the sides as necessary and re-start until smooth.
  3. Coat each slice of fish with the coconut chutney on either side.
  4. Remove the stems on the banana leaves and trim the sides. Cut them into squares big enough to wrap each fish piece. The leaves have to be warmed to make them soft and supple. To do this just run them over the burner or hot plate and you will see it change colour and become soft. Do not overdo it, just one pass on either side is often sufficient. Take care not to burn your hands. Alternatively, heat a dry frying pan and flip them in the hot pan for a second or two. Wipe the leaves before you do this.
  5. Wrap each piece of coated fish in a piece of banana leaf. Tie with string or wrap firmly, keeping the folded side at the bottom to prevent the chutney from coming out.
  6. Place the fish in a steamer over a pan of simmering water, sprinkled with vinegar, cover and steam for 20 minutes until the fish is cooked or preheat the oven to 190°C. Place the wrapped fish in a shallow baking tin, sprinkle some vinegar and a little water over the parcels and bake for 20 minutes. Transfer to serving plates and remove the string if tied. The fish is served in the banana leaf.
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