From Indian Home Cooking
by Suvir Saran
and Stephanie Lyness
(Clarkson Potter; 2004)
Adapted by StarChefs.com
Yield: 4 Servings
I’ve adapted this dish from a celebrated Parsi dish of fish
steamed in banana leaves. I can’t prepare it without thinking
of the Parsis of Bombay, amongst whom I lived while I was in school
there. They are an extraordinarily civilized people, as educated
as any on earth and beautifully dressed. But when you go to a
Parsi banquet, you see another side of the culture. The people
are so enraptured by the food that a sort of brawl breaks out
when the buffet is opened. This is one of my favorite Parsi dishes.
- 4 skinless halibut fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each (about 1 inch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup grated, fresh coconut or 2/3 cup unsweetened, shredded
coconut mixed with 1/3 cup milk
- 3 fresh, hot green chilies
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 cups fresh coriander leaves
- 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves (optional)
- 3/4 teaspoon tamarind concentrate, or juice of 2 small lemons
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Canola oil, for brushing
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Sprinkle the fish all over with
the salt and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the chutney, combine all of the chutney ingredients
in a food processor and process until well chopped.
When the fish has marinated 30 minutes, rinse and pat it dry.
Cut a piece of aluminum foil about 15-inches long and lay it
on a work surface, one of the short sides facing you. Brush the
bottom half with a little oil. Spoon about one-eighth of the chutney
on the bottom half of the foil rectangle and spread it out to
a horizontal rectangle about the size of the halibut fillet. Set
one fillet on top of the chutney and cover with another eighth
of the chutney. Fold the top half of the foil rectangle over the
halibut so that the top and bottom edges meet. Fold the bottom
edge up about 1/4 inch, and then fold it up twice more. Do the
same on both sides to completely seal the halibut in the foil
package. Repeat to make three more packages.
Put the packages in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake
until the foil just begins to puff, about 11 minutes. Cut the
packages open and slide the fish and chutney out onto plates.
For halibut cooked “en papillote” with tomato chutney,
follow the directions above but instead of the coriander-coconut
chutney, use a store-bought or homemade tomato chutney –
using a Tablespoon underneath the fillet and a tablespoon on top.
Cook exactly the same way.
SIDEBAR: Grating Fresh Coconut
Coconuts may be available at your supermarket. If not, you’ll
find them sold in markets in Hispanic and Asian neighborhoods.
To grate fresh coconut meat, twist or hammer a screwdriver or
a sharpening steel into two of the “eyes” of the coconut
and pour out the coconut juice. (This water, sweet, coconut-tasting
juice is not a substitute for coconut milk – the thick,
rich liquid that you buy in cans in the supermarket – used
in Bombay Chicken Curry with Coriander and Coconut Milk, the South
Indian Style Chicken with Curry Leaves and Black Peppercorns on
the book. It does, however, make a lovely, sweet and very refreshing
drink if you strain and chill it well.)
Bake the coconut in a 350°F oven to make the white flesh pull
away from the brown husk. Then wrap the coconut in a towel and
bang with a hammer in several places to split it open. Use a regular
screwdriver to separate the white flesh from the hard, brown shell.
Then use a vegetable peeler to peel off the thin layer of brown
skin. Grate the coconut on a grater or in a food processor.