At Parsi wedding banquets, fish is the first thing to be brought around in deep round trays, one man holding, the other serving it onto the waiting banana leaves. It can be patra ni machhi, fish wrapped in banana leaves, but more often it’s pieces of pomfret in a sweet-and-sour cream sauce made with eggs and vinegar, barely cooked cherry tomatoes dotting the top. There’s no part of a pomfret that isn’t good, so the servers seem entitled to mutter about everyone wanting tails and how many tails is a fish supposed to have?
Bhicoo Manekshaw writes that this dish may well have been a nineteenth-century Parsi interpretation of the decidedly uninteresting English-style fish in white sauce. There are other, more elaborate, versions, but I like the relative simplicity of my mother’s method. The recipe works with a variety of white-fleshed fish such as pompano, snapper, flounder, cod, sea bass, or the Parsi favorite, pomfret; you can even use shrimp, in which case the dish becomes kolmi no sahas.
Serve lagan no sahas with homemade Potato Wafers or with its traditional accompaniment of khichri—the dry, fluffy kind, in which case the dish becomes khichri sahas, a festive meal. For the sake of color on the plate, accompany khichri sahas with a vivid green vegetable like zucchini or spinach, or with a simple lime- and salt-dressed dish of sliced cucumbers and ginger.
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by University of California Press.