This delicately spiced fish stew is perfect for feeding a crowd and takes no time to cook.
5 tbsp mustard oil (available from Asian supermarkets) or vegetable oil
4 green cardamom pods, crushed
3 small bay leaves
1 tsp panch phoran (a blend of equal quantities of fenugreek, nigella seeds, fennel seeds, cumin and mustard seeds), available from Asian supermarkets, also known as Bengali five-spice
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 green chillies, pricked with a fork
2 large garlic cloves, blended to a paste with 1 tbsp water
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp red chilli powder
pinch paprika, optional
salt, to taste
400ml/14fl oz water
600g/1lb 5oz sea bream, cleaned, pin bones removed, flesh cut into 2.5cm/1in pieces
285g/10oz basmati rice, cooked according to packet instructions, to serve
Heat three and a half tablespoons of the mustard oil in a small non-stick pan over a medium heat until smoking. Remove from the heat and set aside for 20-30 seconds.
Add the cardamom pods, cloves, bay leaves and panch phoran and fry over a low heat, stirring well, until the cumin starts to darken in colour.
Add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
Add the green chillies, ginger paste and garlic paste and continue to cook, stirring well, for a further minute.
Add the powdered spices and salt and stir well to combine, then add the water. Bring the mixture to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer the mixture for 12-15 minutes, or until the volume of liquid has reduced. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a separate frying pan over a high heat, add the sea bream pieces and fry for 1-2 minutes, turning once, until the fish pieces are golden-brown on all sides.
Add the fish to the spice mixture, adding more water as necessary to thin the sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately with basmati rice.
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