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.
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.
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.
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!
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