Thursday, October 6, 2016

Patrani Machhi

     Indian Style Steamed Leafy Vegetable Wrapped Fish!
     There are two ways to prepare today's recipe.  The first method involves wrapping fish with edible leafy greens 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 edible greens pick up a lot of flavor and they are a pleasure to eat.  The second method is to wrap the fish with a banana leaf.  Banana leaf will seal the flavors inside the package, but the leaf is inedible, so some of the dining experience is lost.  
     Coconut and chile pepper are the key flavors of Patrani Machhi.  Any extra spices and herbs are the chef's choice.   Chat Masala, Amchur and Curry Leaves flavor today's recipe.
     Chat Masala is also called 14 Spice Blend and this mixture is most often used to flavor fruit or dessert.  Chat Masala also tastes nice with fish and poultry.  Chat Masala is available at Indian food markets.
     Chat Masala contains Amchur (dried mango powder), roasted cumin seed, kala namak (Himalayan 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.  Adding more dried tangy mango powder makes this complex spice mix taste even more tropical.
     Shredded coconut is called for in a Patrani Machhi recipe.  Coconut oil can also be used.  Coconut oil adds flavor and it helps keep the fish moist and tender.
     Curry Leaves add a nice touch to Patrani Machhi.  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 citrus.

     Patrani Machhi:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Place a wide pot of water over high heat.
     Add a couple pinches of sea salt.
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Step 2:  Select 3 large Swiss Chard Leaves.
     Cut off the stalks.
     Step 3:  Place the leaves in the boiling water.
     Blanch the chard leaves, till they wilt.  (Less than 1 minute.)
     Step 4:  Place the blanched chard leaves in a container of ice water.
     Drain off the water.
     Pat the leaves dry with a pastry towel.
     Step 5:  Select 6 ounces of tilapia filets.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of Chinese red chile powder on the fish.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of Spanish Paprika on the fish.
     Season with sea salt.
     Rub the chile powder onto the fish filets.
     Step 6:  Place 2 of the blanched chard leaves on a countertop, so the overlap.
     Place the seasoned fish on the chard leaves.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of amchur (Ground dried tangy mango powder) on the tilapia.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of chat masala on the tilapia.
     Sprinkle 8 to 10 small fresh curry leaves on the tilapia.
     Drizzle 1 tablespoon of coconut oil over the tilapia.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of shredded coconut over the tilapia.
     Step 7:  Fold the bottom chard leaves over the fish.
     Place the remaining chard leaf over the fish.
     Tuck the excess top leaf under the fish, to form a leaf wrapped package.
     Step 8:  Place the leaf wrapped fish on a steamer rack in a 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, till the fish is fully cooked.
     Step 9:  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 goat milk yogurt on the platter.
     Place a ramekin of cilantro chutney on the platter.  (Optional.  Cilantro chutney is available at Indian food markets.)
     Garnish the platter with cilantro sprigs.
     Serve with rice or warm roti chapati bread and lime wedges.
     This is a tasty way to prepare steamed fish!

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