fish steamed with coconut and coriander

A simple recipe for fish coated with coconut and coriander chutney, and steamed in banana leaves.

This recipe, patrani ni machi, comes from Gujerat and is a popular and traditional family dish within the Parsi community.

It is easy to prepare, and it is an attractive dish to serve in its banana leaves. The mystery of what is in the parcel, and then the aroma when they are opened is a great piece of dinner theatre.

We use cod for this dish, usually, but any firm, thick fish will do. The traditional recipe uses pomfret, but since this is mostly unavailable in Australia, substitutes are necessary. Ask your fishmonger to de-bone the fish and cut into four even steaks or cutlets.

Banana leaves are available from most good greengrocers, but you will need to check the quality and size of what they offer. Our local grocer has wrapped leaves, which are one leaf, cut down the middle stalk. That suffices to make about six parcels. The recipe as described below is expecting four generous sized fish parcels, so one leaf should do.

Note the step of warming the banana leaf before preparing the parcel. This heating makes the leaf more pliable, and less likely to split along its ribs when folding and tying.

the recipe

preparation:35 mins
cook:25 mins
marinate:30 mins
total:1 hr
servings:4 servings
calories:315 kcal


  • 800 g fishcut into 4 serving portions
  • 1 limejuiced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 banana leaf

for the chutney

to serve

  • 1 lemoncut into wedges


  • Wash and pat dry the fish. Place in a non-metallic bowl, marinate in lime juice and salt for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 125C.
  • Toast and grind the coriander and cumin seeds. Place the ground seeds and the remaining chutney ingredients into a blender with as little water as possible – start with 50ml – and blend to a smooth paste. Set aside.
  • Wash and dry banana leaves, and then place them in the oven for five minutes.
  • Bring a pot a pot of water to the boil, and place steamer basket over.
  • Cut banana leaves into suitable sizes for fish parcels. Place one teaspoon of the coconut and coriander chutney on each of the parcels, then place a piece of the fish on the chutney. Spread one more teaspoon of the chutney on top of the fish, then wrap the parcel and tie it using kitchen twine. Reserve the remaining chutney.
  • Arrange parcels in one layer in the steamer, then steam for 25 minutes.

to serve

  • Remove parcels from steamer, and serve with wedges of lemon and the reserved chutney.


  • Any firm white fish will be suitable. Cod is a good choice.
  • The step of warming the banana leaf before preparing the parcel is important. This makes the leaf pliable and less likely to split when folding and tying.
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