Saas ni Machchi (Fish)

Final Saas 640 x 300

It is December and with that the Parsi Wedding and Navjote season is now in full swing with women dressing up in their pretty saris night after night while the men don yet another pant-suit combination and drive down to Colaba Agiary, Albless Baug or the dread of all townies, Malcolm Baug.

One wonders, how can these folk go night after night to yet another wedding – don’t they get tired of eating the same food? Well, the simple answer is no. Not when you have delicacies such as Sali Boti, Patra ni Machchi and ofcourse Saas ni Machchi on the menu! And this is not the case with only Parsis, ask any non-Parsi as well and they will tell you that having a Patra nu bhonu is on the top of their bucket list every year.

But, what about us other folk that don’t have as many invites to functions – how can we get our fill of Parsi wedding food? Or, what if you just want some of the goodies without having to traipse from one baug to another? It’s for this reason that I pinned down my mom this weekend and coerced her into sharing her recipe for Saas ni Machchi so that I could make it simply at home.

The best food they say is simple, made with less than 10 ingredients and Saas ni Machchi is one such dish – definately a must try in your home soon!

To make, first clean the fish and marinate in turmeric and salt. While the fish is marinating, grind together the garlic, cumin seeds and green chillies

Onion, cumin and chilli mixture

In a saucepan, take some oil and fry the chopped onions until golden brown

Frying onions

Next, add in the flour as well as the cumin – chilli mixture. Dry roast this mixture, ensuring there are no flour lumps.

Frying Maida with Onions

Once all the oil has been absorbed and the flour is sufficiently roasted (should be light brown in colour), add in about 3 cups of water. Whisk the mixture to ensure there are no lumps.

Whisking the Saas

Now, add in the fish. Cover the saucepan with a glass lid and let it cook on a medium flame for 12 – 15 minutes until the fish is cooked.

cooking the surmai in the saas

While the fish is cooking, in a glass bowl measure up the vinegar, sugar and egg. Whisk everything together until it has blended properly.

egg, vinegar and sugar mixture

The fish gravy should have cooked by now. Give this gravy about 10 minutes to cool down. Once cool, add in the egg and vinegar mixture and give the gravy a good mix – it should now lose its watery texture and become a bit thick. The gravy will now also get a nice off-white colour due to the white vinegar. At this stage, you may need to adjust the gravy to your palette – you want it to have a sour kick but if its too sour, you can add some sugar. Also, season with salt as per your taste.

7. Add in the egg and give it a final boil

Give the gravy a final simmer. If you like, you can also pop in some cherry tomatoes at this stage for some colour. I didn’t have any available so I garnished my Saas with some good ol’ coriander instead.

Final Saas ni Machchi

Enjoy fresh with some hot chapatis or with Yellow Khichdi. If you have some leftovers (very unlikely), store in an airtight container in the fridge. Due to the vinegar and egg, the gravy will turn to a jelly like consistency – don’t be scared, this will turn back into a beautiful gravy when you heat it up again.

To make enough for 6 you will need:

1 tbsp cumin seeds
10 cloves garlic
3 – 4 green chillies
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 big onions chopped finely
6 fillets fish – works best with pomfret though tastes good with Surmai/Rawas as well
1/3 cup white vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
1 egg
3 heaped tbsp maida/high-grade flour
3 cups water
Salt to taste

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    • says

      Hi Rashna,

      If you were having the Saas with khichdi or some rice then it would serve 4. If you were having the fish as an accompaniment to something else as well then it would serve 6

    • says

      You really have to add only a pinch of turmeric powder as its only to marinate the fish. Apologies if my tsp measurement misguided you – I will get that changed.

  1. Anahite Contractor says

    May i tweak this recipe and offer another version (also a classic and very tried and tested and wow-ed!). Instead of grinding the garlic and chilli chop them fine and add with whole cumin. Wheat flour or maida would have a terrific substitute in besan and a little rice flour (cuts out the vulgar atta taste and adds aroma as well as character to the recipe). Red wine vinegar is absolutely fine…it does not interfere with the colour, though you would be well advised to check the proportions of vinegar and sugar as per your taste. I never use egg or turmeric. Cherry tomatoes is the all time favourite but may be substituted with about one medium tomato, puree’d to be added at the end. Even meat saas is yummy…the meat to be pressure cooked like soup and the stock also to be added to the recipe.


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