Fish with Green Masala and Coconut Wrapped in Banana Leaves

May 18, 2015
14 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

A Parsi recipe from the Zoroastrian communities of Pakistan, this green masala is made with cilantro leaves, mint, green chiles, and coconut. Its freshness complements firm white fish without masking the flavor with spice. The elegant presentation of the fish makes for lovely little parcels at a dinner party. You can even make it using a whole fish. —Sumayya Usmani

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Sumayya Usmani is a South Asian cookbook author living in Scotland.
WHAT: A pan-fried fish that looks as good as it tastes.
HOW: Place halibut in a marinade of chiles, cilantro, mint, coconut, turmeric, cumin, and lemon. Wrap it securely in a banana leaf, then pan-fry it until cooked through.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Acquiring banana leaves may take some effort, but it’s worth it—not only does it make for a beautiful presentation (impress your friends!), but it holds in all of the flavors of the marinade for a steamed fish that packs a punch. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 to 2 green chiles (like serrano or jalapeño)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves
  • 12 mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened dried coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon dry-roasted cumin
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • two 6-ounce fillets halibut or other firm white fish
  • Vegetable oil, or other neutral oil, as needed
  • 4 banana leaves, or enough to wrap each fillet in seperately
  1. Create a marinade by blending the first 7 ingredients (up to the fish) in a blender until they become a smooth paste.
  2. Put the fish fillets in a shallow vessel, pour the marinade over top, and let sit in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or longer.
  3. Wrap each fish in a banana leaf, envelope-style, and tie with string or secure closed with a toothpick. The fish should be completely covered.
  4. In a small pan, add enough oil to just to just cover the bottom and set over medium-low heat. Fry the banana-leaf wrapped fish partially-covered, for about 7 to 8 minutes on each side. (You can also cook it on a grill.)
  5. Serve immediately .

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  • Sumayya Usmani
    Sumayya Usmani
  • Jessamin

2 Reviews

Jessamin February 22, 2022
My family really loved this! I have never cooked with banana leaves before and always thought it was complicated for some reason. This was very low-effort, high-reward. I could not find mint for the life of me (there's some kind of mint problem in my area) so grated a small knob of ginger to replace it and that worked well! I am definitely trying this on the grill next, and will not shy away from this cooking method in the future. Thank you!
Sumayya U. September 23, 2015
Thanks for this!