Maunika Gowardhan’s Sindhi fish pulao (Sindhi machhi jo pulao)
- November 2023
- Serves 4 (or 6 as part of a larger spread of Indian dishes)
- Hands-on time 50 min, plus 15-20 min resting. Simmering time 10 min
Maunika Gowardhan‘s fragrant sea bream pulao is perfect for serving at Diwali or other special occasions, as part of a larger spread of Indian dishes.
Maunika says: “Seafood is synonymous with Sindhi cooking, savoured in many recipes. My neighbour Lavina’s mother always cooked the best sai bhaji (spinach curry), but on special occasions this pulao was always on the dinner table – and the whole family loved it.”
- 23g (4.2g saturated)
- 35g (2.8g sugars)
- 800g sea bream fillets (or other meaty white fish), cut into large chunks
- ½ tsp turmeric
- Pinch salt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
For the pulao
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 5 garlic cloves
- 5cm piece fresh ginger
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 bay leaves
- 150g shallots, finely sliced
- 200g tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tsp mild chilli powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 2 heaped tbsp greek yogurt
- 250g basmati rice
- ¼ tsp garam masala powder
- 4 green chillies, slit lengthwise, and coriander leaves to serve
- Put the fish pieces on a plate and marinate in the turmeric, salt and lemon juice. Set aside to marinate for a short while.
- Put the coriander and cumin seeds in a small frying pan and toast over a low heat for 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and cool. Grind to a powder in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and set aside. Blend the garlic and ginger in a food processor with a splash of water to a smooth paste, then set aside.
- In a large heavy-based saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the bay leaves and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Add the shallots and fry for 12-14 minutes until they begin to change colour and go brown. Stir well, and then add the garlic and ginger paste, frying for 1 minute. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and fry for 5 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pan and mash the tomatoes with the back of the spoon. Add the chilli and turmeric powders and the ground coriander and cumin powder. Stir well for 1 minute.
- Take the pan off the heat and add the greek yogurt a little at a time. Stir well, making sure all the yogurt is mixed in well. Put the mixture back over a low heat and cook for 4 minutes. Keep stirring, being careful the yogurt doesn’t split. Add the marinated fish pieces, coating them in the sauce. Don’t stir too much as you want the fish to stay intact. Cook for 3 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking. Continue cooking for a further 3 minutes with the lid on.
- Take the fish pieces out of the pan with a little sauce and set aside. Add the rice to the pan, mixing well with the leftover sauce, and pour in 525ml water. Turn the heat to medium, scrape down the sides and season with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, over a low heat for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice lightly with a fork, sprinkle with garam masala and put the fish over the rice along with the chillies. Put the lid back on to give it a dum or steam for the final 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Garnish with coriander and serve warm.
The Sindhi community come from Sindh (now in Pakistan), and they’ve made their mark across the west of India. With influences from the Muslim and Iranian communities, the food from Sindhi homes is brimming with some of the finest biryanis, kebabs, pulaos and many hearty breakfast dishes.
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