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
- 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.