You can go to any Parsi wedding or celebration and the hot topic of discussion will almost always be the menu. We take immense pride in our food and are always eager to know – what’s for dinner ( or lunch or breakfast ). Most menus are a standard affair and will get a seal of approval but if there’s no Saas Ni Macchi on the menu, I can guarantee at least one if not several disgruntled uncles and aunties muttering under their breath. It’s so beloved that a popular Parsi wedding caterer once told me ” the wedding feast is considered incomplete without Saas ni Macchi and couples have even called off their wedding because they couldn’t agree over this particular dish. “
It sounds ridiculous to be honest but I guess such is the lure of this dish for our community and the truth is while it sounds fancy or elaborate – the recipe is incredibly simple and unintimidating.
What Is Saas Ni Macchi ?
This is a popular Parsi dish that features on any and almost every festive menu or celebration. Macchi means fish and Saas refers to Sauce – It is fish cooked in a white sauce. While it’s heavily inspired from British white sauce recipes and the Portuguese need for vinegar – this dish is completely different. Pomfret which is the preferred choice of fish for the Parsi community is always used and it’s a sweet spicy tangy mix of flavours.
500 grams Pomfret fish cut into pieces
1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
1 Onion chopped
4-5 Green Chillies chopped
2 Teaspoons Ginger Garlic Paste
5-6 Curry Leaves
2-4 Tablespoons of Flour ( Maida )
1 Cup of Water
Salt to taste
1-2 Tablespoons of Sugar or Jaggery
1 Tomato chopped or a handful of cherry tomatoes
Chopped Coriander – a handful
In a pan add your oil and the cumin seeds and let it splutter. To this add your chopped onions, green chillies and curry leaves and let it cook for a minute or two. Then add in the ginger garlic paste and cook for 3-4 minutes till everything softens.
Add in the flour and whisk it well to combine with the onion mixture and then add in a cup of water and keep whisking and mixing continuously into a sauce without any lumps. This is like how you would make a roux and then a sauce. If you feel the sauce needs to be thicker then add a little more flour. If it needs a little thinning then add more water but keep stirring to avoid lumps.
Once the sauce is made let it simmer till it starts to bubble and boil. You will notice a thin layer of froth or scum on the surface, just gentle remove it with your spoon.
To the sauce add in salt, sugar or jaggery and the Parsi vinegar and mix well. Taste at this point to see if you need more or less or anything. Each recipe will differ as it’s made according to the cook. If you want it sweeter or tangier etc you’ll add accordingly.
Add in your pieces of fish and don’t mix or you will break the fish. Gently just spoon the sauce over the fish while it cooks. You can swirl the pan or pot gently so get the sauce to coat the fish if you like ( as shown in the video above). Cover this and let it cook for 5 minutes.
The fish needs to cook for a total of 8 minutes so in the last couple of minutes take off the lid and add in your chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes and the chopped coriander for garnish. Give the pan a swirl and serve hot and enjoy !
How Do You Serve Or Eat Saas Ni Macchi ?
You can eat this however you like with Dal or rice. At a wedding or navjote while you’re enjoying the bhonu patru you’ll eat the Saas ni Macchi with chapati or roti. Most houses will also serve and eat Saas Ni Maachi with khichadi rice – it’s just saffron coloured rice not a traditional khichadi but you can serve it however you like.
What Is Parsi Vinegar ?
Parsi Vinegar is the essential Vinegar that is used in all Parsi Cuisine. It’s sugarcane vinegar and made by a company called EE Kolah or EF Kolah for the last 250 years or so. It’s got a distinct taste smell and flavour and according to me, the closest substitute would be a Balsamic Vinegar. Ideally any vinegar can be substituted in most Parsi recipes even this Saas ni Macchi, but to get that distinct flavour I recommend any sugarcane vinegar or a dash of balsamic.
Other Popular Parsi Fish Recipes
There are several popular Parsi dishes that feature fish or seafood in general. The most popular apart from Saas Ni Macchi is the famous Patra Ni macchi, there’s also fish patio ( lagan nu patio ), Prawn Patio ( my personal favourite ) Boomla and many more. I’ve shared a few videos below and you can search for more Parsi recipes on this website.