steamed fish with coconut and coriander

A great recipe for steamed fish. The fish is coated with coconut and coriander chutney, wrapped into banana leaf parcels, then steamed.

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

Banana leaves are available from good greengrocers, but you will need to check the quality and size of what they offer. Our local grocer stocks something suitable, which is 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. If banana leaves are not available, make the parcels out of baking or greaseproof paper. It won’t taste the same, or look the same, but it does work.

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

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  • 800 g fish - cut into 4 serving portions
  • 1 lime - juiced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 banana leaf

for the chutney

to serve

  • 1 lemon - cut into wedges


  • Wash the fish and pat dry. Place in a non-metallic bowl, then 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 the banana leaves then place them in the oven for five minutes.
  • Bring a pot of water to the boil, and place the 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. 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.
  • If banana leaves are not available the parcels can be made from grease-proof or baking paper.

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Serving: 200 g | Calories: 315 kcal | Carbohydrates: 17 g | Protein: 41 g | Fat: 10 g | Saturated Fat: 7 g | Cholesterol: 100 mg | Sodium: 1211 mg | Potassium: 820 mg | Fiber: 6 g | Sugar: 5 g | Vitamin A: 510 IU | Vitamin C: 36.6 mg | Calcium: 71 mg | Iron: 2.8 mg
4.72 from 7 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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