This week, ‘The Indian-inspired Grills and Kebab Series’ takes the fish route and brings you our grilled version of a well-known Parsi dish, ‘Patra Ni Macchi’…served on a bed of warm cilantro and whole cumin brown rice pulao.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…in the good ole college days, many befriended me only so that they could get invited to Parsi events. The smorgasbord of mouthwatering food served at a Parsi wedding or ‘Navjote’ (that’s a Zoroastrian ceremony similar to a Christening or Bar Mitzvah) certainly warranted that kind of fan-following…And if there is one dish sure to be on the menu; it’s this delicious and unique ‘Patra Ni Machi’ preparation.
‘Patra ni Macchi’ where ‘patra’ translates to leaves and ‘macchi’ means fish generally uses Pomfret, a popular Indian fish (flavors similar to tilapia.) The preparation is made by marinating the fish in a coating of spicy green coconut chutney and wrapping it in banana leaves. The fish is steamed to ensure that the flavors and juices of the fish and chutney are sealed in the banana leaves packet.
Here, we’ve coated tilapia fish with the authentic coconut chutney; a recipe passed down by my mom (and one that is definitely worth holding on to.) Since banana leaves are hard to come by, we use foil to create fish packets and cook them on an outdoor grill to render an outstanding and healthy ‘Patra Ni Macchi’ style preparation. The flaky, flavor-filled fish with all its juices and chutney is best served on a bed of our simple cumin and cilantro brown rice pulao.
Grilled Coconut Chutney Tilapia
1 ½ lbs tilapia fillet (4-5 fillets)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Slices of lemon to top the fish
For the Coconut Chutney
3 teaspoons cumin seeds
9 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons coconut flakes/desiccated coconut
2 cups cilantro leaves
1 cup mint leaves
2 Serrano pepper/4 small green chili (reduce for lesser spice)
3 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons white vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lime juice
Wash and clean the tilapia fillets. Cut 3-4 slits on both sides of the fillet, add lemon juice, salt and pepper and refrigerate till the chutney is ready.
In a food processor, blend all the ingredients for the coconut chutney except the lime juice really well. Use a few teaspoons of water as required to aid the grinding of the chutney. Once you have a fine paste consistency, mix in the lime juice with a spoon.
Cut 4 large squares of heavy duty foil. Place one tilapia fillet in the centre of the foil square and liberally slather the coconut chutney over both sides. Top with a round slice of lemon. Seal the tilapia fillet in the foil. Repeat this step for the other fillets.
Heat an outdoor grill to 350F. Place the fish packets directly on the rack, cook for only 12 minutes. Remove and leave aside for 5 minutes, then check to make sure the fish flakes easily. (You can also make this in an indoor oven at 350F for 12-15 minutes.)
Serve the fish hot along with all its juices from the packet over a bed of Cumin and Cilantro Brown Rice Pulao.
Cumin and Cilantro Brown Rice
2 cups brown rice, cooked and hot
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Heat olive oil in a pan and when it shimmers, turn off the flame and add the cumin seeds. Drizzle this tempering over hot cooked brown rice. Mix the salt and cilantro into the rice using a fork.
Serve hot as a bed for the Grilled Coconut Chutney Tilapia or as a side with any meat, lentils, vegetable preparation of your choice.
Accompaniments & Serving Ideas:
- Here’s a wedding special for the sweet tooth in us all: a recipe for Lagan nu Custard from parsicuisine.com which uses a Crème Anglais-type base to create a decadent treat served at all Parsi weddings.
- What’s food without a drink in hand? NYTimes.com has this amazing and fun Summer Drinks cocktail generator which randomly creates cocktails with the click of a button…its worth checking out.
At Parsi events, when the food is ready to be served, a designated announcer exclaims loudly in a sing-song voice, ‘Jamva Chalo Ji’ which aptly translates to: Let’s go eat!