Saturday, 22 February 2014

Patra Ni Machhi – Fish Steamed In Banana Leaves

Patra Ni Machhi – Fish steamed in Banana Leaves

A Parsee navjote or wedding meal is incomplete without fish and we Bawas mainly opt for either Sas ni Machhi or Patra ni Machhi. I definitely prefer the latter! Most Bawas always debate over this but for me Patra ni Machhi wins hands down. The light flaky fish, the delicious green chutney and the fragrance and flavour imparted by the banana leaves in which it is steamed make this dish a sheer delight! What are you waiting for?? Head to the market pronto for those banana leaves and fish ;-)


10 pieces fish fillets (you can use pomfret, black pomfret/halva, surmai/kingfish, rawas/white Indian salmon or any single bone fish that can be filleted)
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon salt
5 tender banana leaves, carefully wash and pat dry (Note: Feel free to keep two-three extra in case they tear)
Butter or oil, for greasing the leaves

For the Green Chutney:

1 coconut
2 bunches coriander leaves
2 bunches mint leaves
24 green chilies
14-15 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons jeera / cumin seeds
Approx 6 medium sized raw mangoes, (use to taste depending on the amount of acidity best suited to your taste buds - when not in season use lime juice)
Salt, to taste
Sugar, to taste

Method for Chutney:

Grind all the ingredients to a thick chutney. Refrain from adding too much water. The chutney has to be thick so that it doesn't run out of the banana leaves. When done, keep aside. (Feel free to make this a day or two in advance. It keeps in the fridge. I usually do that)


  1. Mix the chili powder, turmeric powder and salt in a bowl. Add water to make a thick paste. Apply this to all the fish pieces. Leave aside for 15-30 minutes.
  2. Remove the center stem of the banana leaves and cut each leaf into two.
  3. Heat water in a steamer/double boiler. When it begins to boil leave it on simmer.
  4. Grease the banana leaf with butter or oil.
  5. Place some chutney in the center of the leaf.

  6. Place one piece of the marinated fish on the chutney.

  7. Cover the top of the fish with some more chutney.

  8. Carefully wrap the fish in the banana leaf and tie a string to ensure the parcel does not open up. Repeat with the remaining banana leaves and pieces of fish.

  9. Put the fish parcels in the top vessel of the steamer/double boiler. Increase the heat from simmer to high and steam for 15-20 minutes. (the time may vary slightly depending on the size and thickness of the fish pieces)
    Patra Ni Machhi ready to be steamed

    Patra Ni Machhi getting steamed
    Patra Ni Machhi, steamed n ready to be devoured ;-)
  10. When done, carefully open the banana leaves and serve hot with soft rotis.

    Steaming hot Patra Ni Machhi

    The fish should be as flaky as shown in the pic
 Chef’s Note:

  1. I marinated the fish in that minuscule bit of chili powder and turmeric (as does the caterer Darius Dorabjee of the famous Dorabjee restaurant in Pune) because it enhances the flavour of the fish. Please note, it’s only 1 teaspoon chili powder n ¼ teaspoon turmeric which isn't really much for 10 pieces of fish but having tried to make it without the spices I felt the fish kinda fell flat taste-wise regardless of how delicious the chutney was. This lifted the dish to a completely different level and I now know why Darius Dorabjee makes it the way he does.
  2. The chutney is the hero of the dish so keep tasting it as you make it to adjust the sugar and acidity (raw mangoes/lime juice) until you achieve perfect flavour. Also, do not be stingy with the chutney when you coat the fish in it. In case you have some leftover chutney, make chutney sandwiches and think of me ;-)
  3. If you don’t have banana leaves available to you, your next best option will be butter paper.
  4. Lastly, please do not overcook the fish. Ideally it should be flaky as soon as you put a fork through it. 
  5. You may share the direct blog-link of the recipe/s but do NOT publish my recipes and my photographs on any blog-site or website without my explicit consent or attempt to pass off my recipe/s as your own. You will be held accountable for plagiarism. 
 Bon Appetit!!


  1. Looks awesome, love to taste some..... ( through :

    1. Thank you so much! If you try it in your kitchen please do let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear feedback from you.

  2. Is it six raw mangoes or six pieces of raw mango?

    1. Hi Kamala, 6 pieces of raw mango will be insufficient for 1 whole coconut. I used 6 (medium sized) mangoes to get the perfect tang in the chutney. If the mangoes are large ones, please go with a lesser quantity. Also mangoes vary in tanginess, so always add a few pieces a time when you grind the chutney. Keep tasting it to check for balance of flavor until the time you feel it's perfect for you and your loved ones. I hope you give the recipe a try and if you do, please write back to let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear feedback from you. Thanks ever so much for visiting the blog.