Descended from Persian Zoroastrians—followers of the prophet Zoroaster who began emigrating to India around the eighth century—Parsis in India have their own distinct food. This Parsi fish dish, commonly featured at weddings, is adapted from a recipe in Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries (Workman, 2008). White-fleshed fish is bathed in a spiced coconut-tamarind sauce and steamed until tender in fragrant banana leaves. This recipe first appeared in our August/September 2014 special India issue.
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 cup grated fresh or frozen coconut
- 1⁄4 cup chopped mint
- 1 tbsp. grated jaggery or brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 tsp. tamarind paste
- 7 small green Thai chiles or 3 serranos, stemmed
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 4 fresh or frozen and defrosted banana leaves, or 4 sheets parchment paper
- 4 (6 oz.) boneless, skinless fillets sole, flounder, or cod
- Purée cilantro, coconut, mint, jaggery, cumin seeds, tamarind paste, chiles, garlic, salt, and 1 cup water in a blender into a smooth sauce. Trim each banana leaf into a 9″ square; wipe clean with a damp paper towel. Spread ¼ cup sauce in center of each leaf; place 1 fillet over sauce on each leaf and season with salt. Spread ¼ cup sauce over each fillet; fold sides of leaves over fillets, then tuck open ends under to form packets. Boil 2″ water in an 8-qt. saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Place packets in steamer; cook, covered, until fish is cooked, about 20 minutes.