Patrani Machli – Indian Baked Fish Parcels

Patrani Machli - Indian Baked Fish Parcels

Patrani Machli – Indian Baked Fish Parcels

When people talk about Indian cuisine, they usually mean red sauce curries, or creamy Kormas, or the many pulse-based dishes, or perhaps even any one of the vast range of vegetarian dishes available.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this is all well and good, but that means that Indian seafood quite often goes overlooked, which is a crying shame.

This is one of my favourite Indian seafood dishes. It has its roots in “Raj” style cooking, an Anglo-Indian type of fusion-cuisine, often created by Parsee cooks.

Firm, white fish is given a spicy, herby, coconutty, and lemony paste topping, wrapped in foil, and then baked in the oven. The result is a moist, gorgeously aromatic, subtly flavoured  piece of fish. Sumptuous!

For that full-on Anglo-Indian experience, you could serve this dish along with some sweet potato wedges, making a wonderful cross-cultural “Fish ‘n Chips”!


Patrani Machli – Indian Baked Fish Parcels

Serves 4


  • 4 100g cod steak fillets – see “Notes” below
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • a good handful of fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • a good handful of fresh mint
  • 3 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Jalapeño chillies, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped


  • Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
  • Place the onion, fresh coriander, fresh mint, desiccated coconut, cumin powder, lemon juice, Jalapeños, and garlic into a food processor, and blitz down into a smooth paste.
  • Lay a cod fillet on a large double thickness of aluminium foil. Cover the top of the fillet with ¼ of the spice paste. Wrap the foil tightly around the fillet, forming a parcel. Repeat for the other 3 fillets.
  • Place the foil parcels on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool somewhat. Unwrap the parcels, carefully. The fish should be white if thoroughly cooked, i.e. no longer translucent looking.
  • Serve, garnished with lemon wedges, etc.


  • The hard core, old school version of this dish uses a banana leaf instead of aluminium foil to form the cooking parcel.
  • Any other firm white fish would work here in place of the cod – adjust cooking times accordingly.
  • I call them “cod steak fillets” because I’m no longer sure what they’re called in English! In French they’re “Coeur de Cabillaud”“Heart of Cod”, and in Swedish “Torskrygg”“Cod Back”. Whatever you call them, they’re the premium, thick, usually quite expensive but normally bone-free fillet.

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