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Parsi Cooking: Reviving an Ancient Cuisine

The intriguing history of Parsi foods results in uniquely flavored and healthful dishes.

Photo credit: Sheriar Hirjikaka
Niloufer Mavalvala

Niloufer Mavalvala

Niloufer is a cookbook author and cooking instructor with a great passion for food and a love of world travel.

Patra Ni Machi (Fish in Banana Leaves)

Patra Ni Machi (Fish in Banana Leaves) Photo credit: Sheriar Hirjikaka

Cooking fish in banana leaves is an old tradition. It makes fish look good and taste even better! Fresh banana leaves are found in Southeast Asia but most Asian food stores now carry frozen sheets for easy use. Wash and wipe them before using. It is definitely worth the extra effort.

Traditionally, thick fillets of white fish were wrapped up, tied with string, and deep fried in oil. Just before serving the strings were cut and hot fresh pieces of fish were unfolded. Here I share with you a simpler yet effective way of achieving similar results. This recipe uses fillets of fish, although in India fish is still served bone-in.

Preparation

For the chutney:

In a food processor or blender, process the coconut until finely ground. Add, in order, the chilies, salt, cilantro, diced mangoes, jaggery, mint, and lemon juice. Taste for balance in the salt, the heat from the chilies, the sourness and the sweetness, and adjust as needed.

For the fish:

1. Preheat oven to 170° C (350° F). Wash and dry the fillets and salt each one lightly. On a baking sheet lay out banana leaves. Brush oil lightly on the leaves and place the pieces of fish on them. Top each piece of fish with green chutney. Gently press it down with the palm of your hands or the back of a spoon. Now cover the fish with more banana leaves.

2. Bake until the fish is cooked through, about 22 minutes. Discard the top leaves and serve the fish on a platter with banana leaves.