Patra Ni Machchi

Image Credit: Aneesh Bhasin, Indian Wine List

Image Credit: Aneesh Bhasin, Indian Wine List

As November approaches, the Parsi wedding and navjote season in Mumbai will get going with invites pouring in from all quarters – the joys of being part of a community where there are only 3 instead of the usual 6 degrees of separation. It also means that the season for Parsi wedding feasting also starts!

Ask any Parsi and they will tell you that upon receiving a wedding invite not much ado is made about the wedding couple but more so about the wedding caterer!

Being the stereotypical bawa family that we are, Bawa Groom and myself  hate it when we are invited to a parsi wedding only to find some Indian buffet type food being served when all we really want is a Parsi style Patru where you can have sariya, achaar, sali gosht, patra-ni-machchi, pulao dal, lagan nu custard and more – my mouth is already salivating as I write this! If you haven’t yet been to a Parsi wedding, I suggest this season you try your best at getting invited to one as the food – especially if Tanaz Godiwala, the undisputed queen of Parsi Wedding Food is the caterer – is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.

Of all the goodies served at the wedding feast, my favourite is the Patra-ni-Machchi. As a child (and fine, I’ll admit it even now) if I found out that this fish was on the menu, I refused to have any of the other food so that I could gorge on two, oh okay, three of these beauties with some fresh chapatis and sariya.

However, since my first wedding this season is not until the end of November and I chanced upon some beautiful pomfret the other day I decided to make this speciality fish at home. And, it turned out amazing!

There are two ways of making this fish at home. The simple version involves wrapping a rawas or basa  in baking paper and popping it in the oven while the more authentic version will mean you have to source fresh pomfrets and banana leaves from the market and steam it over the stove. I recommend the second option if you can spare the time – the banana leaves and the pomfret give this dish a really awesome flavour that the baking paper and basa (obviously) doesn’t! Ingredients at the bottom as always.

In any case, first you will need to clean the fish and marinate it in the spices and salt. Once marinated, using your grinder, whip up a batch of the green chutney.

ingredients for making Patra ni Machchi at home

Cut pieces of banana leaves or baking paper into small pieces and sandwich a fillet of the fish between two tablespoons of chutney. Make sure that every inch of the fish is coated with chutney and then wrap the banana leaf with string or rubber band to make a neat parcel.

Fish Parcel

After all the fish is parceled, you can pop it into a preheated oven for 15 mins or go with the more authentic steamed version. To do that, fill up a pressure cooker with boiling water until it just touches the base of your steamer. Place the parcels of fish on the steamer and shut your cooker (without the whistle). Now, let the fish steam for 10 minutes on each side.

Patra ni Machchi in Cooker

Once the fish is steamed, serve the fish with the banana leaf still on and let your guests unwrap the yummy surprise! There you have it – Patra ni Machchi in the comfort of your home without having to give a peramni to the wedding couple or hankering after a wedding invite!

Patra ni Machchi ready to be served

To make enough for 4 you will need:

4 pieces of pomfret or rawas
Green Chutney made with 1/2 coconut
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp red chilli powder
Salt to Taste
2 Banana Leaves or Baking Paper
Rubber Bands or String

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  1. says

    We have a sort of steamer in which we make dhokla ( well not exactly that , but something similar which is called idla in Surat area) .
    Do you think it can be used for this recepie ?

    You have refreshed memories of my university days when we were invited to my friend Rusi’s place at Grant Road specially for parti ni machhi

    Thank you

  2. Ashley says

    Hey it’s great to see this site as it gives an insight to the com , I love patra ni machchi , but u have not given the rec for the most imp ing that is the chutney ? Why ? Every green chutney style is different . Wil be back for the rec

  3. says

    Hi! So delighted to find your site , courtesy Kunal Vijaykar’s article. Two queries pls . (a) you have used fish fillet. If I have fresh pomfrets, can the entire fish be steamed duly wrapped in chutney and a banana leaf. ( b) you have said steam for ten minutes on each side. So after ten minutes I need to reverse the banana packets? Thanks in advance !

    • says

      Hi Shilpi,

      Thanks for stopping by. If you have fresh pomfrets that’s best. I suggest not using the entire pomfret unless its a small size as your leaf may break while wrapping it. The steaming process varies on the thickness and size of the fish but yes ideally you just reverse the packets so both sides of the fish get the steam. You can always judge if its cooked by poking a small knife through it.

      • vikram kalra says

        Hi bawibride 🙂

        love your site, recipes and your writing style – i even ordered some of your yummy masoor dal and kopra paakh couple of months back when i was in bombay – yum!!!

        few quick questions on your paatra ni machhi recipe –

        1. do you first marinate fish in salt, turmeric and red chilli powder? if yes, how long?

        2. how long should one let the fish marinate in the chutney?

        3. is it necessary to turn the fish even in an electric steamer?



        • says

          Thanks Vikram! So happy to know you enjoy the site as well as our food. To answer your questions:
          1. Yes we marinate the fish in salt, turmeric and red chilli powder – I’d suggest atleast for half an hour though 2 – 3 hours is best
          2. Ideally wrap the fish in the chutney and the banana leaves and let stand for about an hour
          3. Electric steamer steams evenly to my knowledge so no would not be necessary.

  4. NAZNEEN says

    Hi …. i m so happy to try it out ..but there s one problem. … being in USA u dont get banana leaves what other options do u ve in mind to make tis successful recipe of yours

    • says

      You can always wrap the fish in baking paper and bake it – it will give the same effect. Don’t steam it though as I don’t think the paper would withstand the moisture.

  5. Dhun says

    I’m making about 20 pieces for a party. My problem is, my steamer can only handle 2 or 3 at a time. So I will have to start steaming hours in advance. Will the pieces I make first be able to stay for 2 – 3 hours without getting soggy or overdone?

    • says

      they usually don’t get soggy. I recommend storing the cooked pieces in a colander and then at time of reheating putting them in a covered container (if microwaving).


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