Patrani Machhi | Steamed Fish in Foil

A flavorful steamed fish recipe, this patrani machhi is a popular Indian choice for all seafood lovers. It’s packed with all herby flavors and comes around in a jiffy!

Patrani MachhiBeing a seafood lover I really can’t forgive myself for not trying and sharing such a wonderful recipe as this before! Today’s recipe of patrani machhi is simply heaven for any fish freak like me – a fish smeared with all herby green goodness and steamed in a foil until just flaky!

Only the thought of it is making me hungry again! If the name patrani machhi sounds new to your, then just stick on little longer and I will explain to you this gorgeousness!

Patrani MachhiWe Bengalis are generally habituated with fish curries in our daily meals which is why I was on the lookout of different fish preparations like fish tikkas or steamed fish. During my search, I stumbled upon this patrani machhi recipe on net, but each with different variations which is completely fine because everyone cooks as their taste-buds demand.

After exploring a while, I drafted my own version of patrani machhi as per my liking. We all instantly fell in love with it after trying it the very first time! I guarantee that you will too!

Patrani Machhi

Now let me explain what the heck this patrani machhi is! Macchi is fish and patra is leaf; patrani means ‘made in leaf’ or something like that, you get the idea! Basically, the fish is marinated with all spices, herbs etc and packed & sealed inside a leaf, usually banana leaf, and then steamed until done.

There is somewhat guesswork involved in this as ideally you should not open up the leaf packet to check the doneness of the fish, but if you use a soft buttery kind of quick-cooking fish, then you won’t face any problem.

I used pomfret for this recipe because of 2 reasons –

  • Firstly, we all love the taste and texture of pomfret
  • Secondly, pomfret soaks up the flavors of the herby marinade beautifully and cooks really fast saving you of the guesswork

So, you see that pomfret fits the bill perfectly and you get a fantastic steamed fish to delight your friends and family!

Patrani MachhiIf you have already started wondering (and may be getting annoyed a bit!) about why I have used aluminum foil instead of banana leaves – it’s a patrani machhi after all! Again, there are exactly 2 reasons for this –

  • Even after trying hard, I could not get my hands on both banana leaves and pomfret fish simultaneously. For this recipe, you will definitely need the freshest pomfret for creating the ultimate taste as well as bright green banana leaves to pack them up! I wasn’t lucky enough to source these two things at their freshest possible condition simultaneously and hence had to replace banana leaves with good old aluminum foil (I couldn’t replace pomfret with anything else, right!). There was no way I could wait until eternity for this rare combination to materialize! Hope you understand!

Patrani Machhi

  • Secondly, I felt that similar hardship could be faced by many of you as banana leaves may not be easily available everywhere; but non-availability of banana leaves must not stop you from devouring this lip-smacking steamed fish! And aluminum foil could be the best possible replacement which is available almost everywhere around the globe! The idea is to seal the steam inside which will cook the fish and infuse the fish with the herby flavor of the marinating spices. Well, yes you may argue that the banana leaves also infuse more earthy flavor to the fish but I feel that’s very subtle. Trust me you won’t be missing any flavor by using aluminum foil instead of banana leaves.

If you are still not convinced, then let me rename this as steamed fish in foil instead of patrani machhi. But no matter what you call it, you are gonna fall for it as soon as you give this a try!

Patrani Machhi | Steamed Fish in Foil
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 2 servings
  • Pomfret fish – 2, whole
  • Fresh coriander leaves – 2 cups
  • Fresh mint leaves – 1 cup
  • Garlic – 8 to 9 cloves
  • Ginger – 1 inch piece, chopped
  • Green chilies – 3 to 4, chopped
  • White vinegar – 2 tbsp
  • Water – ½ cup or more if only required
  • Olive/vegetable oil – 2 tbsp
  • Aluminum foil/banana leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. To make the marinade, add coriander leaves, mint leaves, vinegar, ginger, garlic and green chilies to a grinder jar and grind together.
  2. Now add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, for easy blending. The mixture should be thick and not too watery. You may or may not need half cup of water.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the olive/vegetable oil to the marinade and mix well.
  4. Score the pomfret both sides with the edge of the knife. Season both sides of the fish lightly with salt. Apply the coriander-mint marinade over the fish on both sides in thick layer.
  5. Pack each pomfret in aluminum foil making sure there is no gap and no steam is able to escape.
  6. Place the packed fish on the steamer on top of simmering water making sure water is not touching the foil. Cover and steam the fish for 10 minutes, then flip it over and steam for another 10 minutes.
  7. Serve the hot steamed fish with Basmati rice.

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