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Thursday, April 19, 2012
Indian steamed edible leaf wrapped chile rubbed spiced fish with coconut!
There are two definitions of this recipe. The first is that the fish is wrapped with edible leaves of some kind. Cabbage, chard, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, escarole or any edible large leafy green that cooks quickly can be used to wrap the fish. The second definition is to wrap the fish with inedible banana leaf. The edible leaf version was the version that was taught to me at chef school and it seems like the best, because the steamed leaves can be eaten as a vegetable!
The two requirements of a patrani machhi are coconut and that the fish be rubbed with chile pepper. The spices and seasoning is the chef's choice.
I chose to season the patrani machhi with an Indian Pakistani chat masala, amchur and curry leaves. Chat masala is used in both India and Pakistan and it is also called 14 spice blend. Chat masala contains amchur (dried mango powder), roasted cumin seed, kala namak (Himalayan high sulphur black salt), coriander, ginger, salt, black pepper, asafoetida (hing or Afghani giant fennel), chile powder, ground anise, ajwain (caraway), ground dried mint, ground pomegranate seed and paprika or garam masala. Garam masala? Garam masala is a complex spice mix of its own!
Chat masala is most often used to flavor fruit recipes. Chat masala also tastes nice with fish and poultry. By adding a little bit more ground mango powder (amchur), the fruity tropical flavor was increased. When using chat masala for the first time, it is best to buy a good pre-made chat masala, so the flavor profile can be learned correctly. The spices for chat masala are not easy to find, if you plan to make your own. Indian Rani brand makes a nice one!
Shredded coconut is called for in a patrani machhi recipe. I chose to use coconut oil for the patrani machhi in the pictures. Coconut oil has plenty of coconut flavor and the fats from the coconut oil help keep the fish moist and tender.
Curry leaves have a nice flavor of their own. Fresh curry leaves are best! When the edible leaf wrapper is pulled away from the fish, the first aroma that can be noticed is the curry leaves. The curry leaf aroma smells like roasted peanuts with a hint of lemon or lime!
My choice of seasoning and spices for this patrani machhi turned out to be very nice! I am sure that I am not the first chef to create this flavor combination, because these spices have been used in India and Pakistan for thousands of years! Every chef likes to create new flavors, even if they are traditional flavors that have been around for a long time.
Patrani Machhi Recipe:
Boil 4" of water in a wide pot over high heat.
Add sea salt.
Trim the thick stalks and the thick end of the stalk rib off of 3 large chard leaves.
Place the leaves in the boiling water.
Blanch the chard leaves, till they wilt.
Cool the leaves under cold running water.
Pat the leaves dry with a towel.
Rub 6 ounces of tilapia filets with red chile powder. (Chinese/Indian red chile powder or cayenne pepper is fine for this recipe.
Place the chile rubbed tilapia filet on two of the chard leaves. (Overlap the leaves.)
Season with sea salt.
Sprinkle 2 pinches of amchur (Ground dried mango powder) on the tilapia.
Sprinkle 2 pinches of chat masala on the tilapia.
Sprinkle about 10 small curry leaves on the tilapia.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of coconut oil over the tilapia. (Or sprinkle 2 pinches of shredded coconut over the tilapia.)
Fold the bottom chard leaves over the fish.
Place the remaining chard leaf over the fish.
Tuck the excess leaf under the fish.
Place the fish on a steamer rack in a bamboo steamer or stainless steel steamer.
Add water to the steamer.
Place the lid on the steamer.
Turn the temperature to medium high heat under the steamer.
Steam the wrapped fish for about 5 to 8 minutes or till the fish is fully cooked.
Remove the steamer rack and the wrapped fish from the steamer.
Use a spatula to place the wrapped fish on a serving platter.
Place a ramekin of thin goats milk yogurt and a ramekin of cilantro chutney on the plate. (Cilantro chutney is available pre-made at Indian markets.)
Serve with rice or warm roti chapati bread.
Garnish the plate with cilantro sprigs.
Offer lemon or lime wedges.
Delicious! The flavors of this entree are hard to imagine, but they are something that should be experienced! Both the chard and the tilapia take on the bold flavors. The aromatic curry leaves are so tasty in this recipe. The curry leaves are meant to be eaten too. Yum! ... Shawna