Fish 'n' chips - the Parsi way
Its astounding how much of my life has gone by and I had never had the chance to taste this before now. And come to think of it, there is so much variety of food out there........ and I've a long way to go to taste it all!! Mission Impossible!!
But I am more determined than Agent Ethan Hunt.
I choose to accept this mission. I shall not give up!
I can already hear my taste buds dancing with joy to the tune of Limp Bizkit. Yeah I still enjoy that song from time to time. Please don't judge me.
Now this dish!! Patra ni Macchi or Fish steamed in Banana leaves with a delicious marinade of bold fresh flavours. Its a hallmark dish that comes down from generations in the Parsi community and is part of the celebration food for special ocassions. You can thus be most certain that the flavours will delight you. The fish is cooked in such a way that it turns so beautifully buttery n flaky on the inside and those flavours of mint and coconut all come together to make it taste divine!
I served this healthy fish with Chips. But not any chips!! These are the crispy fried french Pommes Pailles also known as Salli potatoes (parsi) or Shoe string potatoes. An uber healthy Fish served with some indulgent potatoes. Cut thinner than the matchstick potatoes, the cutting takes precision and patience but if I can do it, you can too!! Or feel free to use a mandolin to do the cutting for you. But please, please give this a try!!
You do get ready made Salli, but there's something about making everything with your own hands. Also this way you can limit the amount of salt that goes in the dish. Lets gather the ingredients first!
For the fish
Time taken: 20 minutes
Basa Fish fillet (use pomfret if you have it on hand)
1 cup mint leaves
1 cup coriander leaves
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp ground and roasted cumin
1" piece of ginger
3-4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp oil
Pinch of love
Banana Leaves (You can also just grill the marinated fish if you don't have the banana leaves. The banana leaves just add a hint of sweetness and keep the moisture inside the fish.)
Wash n clean the fish.
Pat it dry and cut 2" by 2" pieces of it. My fish was about a foot long so I had 8-9 pouches from one fish.
I then made the marinade. To make that, I used my food processor (using a bowl here only for photography purposes) Added in the mint and coriander leaves. You can also add in green chilies if you want to. I chose not to.
Add in the coconut. If you can find it grated, you can use that or just chop it up in small pieces like so. I tried grating it first but I couldn't be bothered.
In goes the ginger. I prefer cutting everything to a uniform size before adding to the food processor so that the pureeing becomes easier.
The garlic cloves. I transferred this to from the bowl to the food processor. My garlic looks a weird colour because its frozen and thawed
Add in the salt n crack the black pepper
In goes the lemon juice. Give it a whizz. Add a drizzle of oil if you need it to make the puree.
Add in the freshly roasted and ground cumin and mix. Authentically the marinade includes a tsp of sugar but I omitted that. This marinade takes just about 5 minutes to make! Can you imagine the fresh zingy flavours?!
Start boiling the water for steaming this now.
Next, I cleaned my banana leaves and divided them into roughly 6-8" big squares. 6" would've been perfect.
Spoon one heaped tbsp of marinade on the leaf and smear it with the back of your spoon.
Lay down your piece of fish
Spoon over some more of that delicious marinade.
Spread and cover the fish evenly from all sides.
Fold over the sides of the leaves to make small pouches. Make sure the marinade isn't leaking out and use string to tie the pouch if needed. I just placed them upside down and it worked just fine. You can also use a momo maker or a pot sticker steamer for steaming the fish. I placed the pouches in a colander, here's how.
I made a make shift steamer. In a deep saucepan i placed a small bowl on the bottom, placed the fish pouches on a small colander. Placed that colander on that small bowl in the saucepan. Cover it all with a big lid and your steamer is ready. Make sure when you fill the water in the saucepan it doesnt touch the bottom of the colander.
Steam the fish pouches for about 10 minutes, 12 to be on the safer side. The fish is ready to be served!!
The aroma of this fish is sooooooo tempting. I just couldn't wait to open up the Patra or the leaves to dig in.
Just take a look inside the fish! Buttery and flaky like I promised!!
Those flavours!! This is such a healthy lunch or dinner option, my new favourite!!
For the Chips or Salli
Time taken: 1 hour prep and 20 mins for frying
2 large potatoes
Oil for frying
Pinch of love
If you're anything like me, you'll rush in the kitchen and get your mandolin out and be done with it in a few minutes. I would have done the same too but I don't have a mandolin. Yikes!! I know!! Blasphemous!! But it just gave me an opportunity to practice my knife skills. I don't know how these french chefs can do this on a daily basis! It was honestly quite nerve wracking. I paid extra attention to detail just so I can get uniform slices. These fries are thinner than matchstick fries and are usually of 6 cms long and 2-3 mm thick.
So on with it then! I peeled and sliced my potatoes using a potato slicer. Atleast this one task made my life easier.
Placing those slices in a bowl of cold water, I took each slice at a time and sliced it really thin like this.
Have your oil heating on low heat meanwhile. It should be around 3 fingers deep.
On a paper towel or a kitchen napkin, drain and dry those potato slices. Wet fries will make the oil splutter so try and absorb all the moisture that you can.
Use the same old technique of testing the hotness of the oil by adding one slice of potato and if it rises up within the first 7 seconds, your oil is hot enough to fry. Add the potatoes in small batches so as not to crowd the pan or your potatoes will steam instead of getting crisp. When you add the slices first, the oil will bubble furiously. Practice caution please.
After a couple of minutes, the oil will settle down a little, and the fries will start to colour on the edges.
When the Salli starts to turn golden, take it out on the kitchen towel to drain excess oil
How gorgeous does this look!!
Sprinkle salt on it as soon as it comes out of the oil. Just a small pinch at a time is enough per batch.
You can choose to serve this on its own with ketchup. I admit I have done that a couple of times already since I first made this last week. Its addictive!!
Pretty gorgeous golden crispy fries!! Perfect for the rainy weather we have here these days.
Or you serve them like this, with the Patra ni Machhi. Double whammy!!
The combination of textures and flavours will keep you wanting more!! Not a very guilty pleasure! Indulge!