Ghaliyeh Mahi

One of the very few Persian dishes that has Chillies?


Ghaliyeh Mahi
by Ariana Bundy

Recipe from Pomegranates & Roses: my Persian family recipes (Simon & Schuster UK)


The cuisine of southern Iran is very different from the rest of the country since it is geographically close to Pakistan. Not many Iranians are familiar with it. It uses hot spices such as chillies and ginger and, being on the Persian Gulf, people eat a lot more fish than elsewhere in Iran (apart from along the Caspian coast). Ghaliyeh or kalya is an ancient term for stew.

Sour tamarind gives this dish a distinct sweet and sour flavour without using traditional lemon juice or verjuice. You can make it with either prawns or fish – reduce the cooking time to 10–12 minutes if using prawns only – but I’ve put them together here.

1 small onion, finely sliced

4–5 spring onions, finely chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter (or use extra oil)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 tsp finely ground chilli powder or cayenne pepper

1⁄3 tsp turmeric

1 tsp chopped fresh ginger

11/2 tsp mild curry powder

125g (4oz) 2 cups fresh coriander, roughly chopped

50g (2oz) 1 cup fresh fenugreek, roughly chopped or 3–4 tbsp dried

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped

125g (4oz) 1/2 cup concentrated sour tamarind paste or 200g (8oz) 1 cup strained sieved tamarind pulp

900ml (11/2 pints) 31/2 cups hot water

500g (1lb) any firm white fish: cod, haddock or halibut

400g (13oz) raw peeled prawns

In a large frying pan sauté the onion and spring onions in the oil and butter, if using, until golden. Add the garlic and stir for another 2 minutes, making sure not to brown the onions too much. Stir in the chilli or cayenne, turmeric, ginger and curry powder. Add the herbs, salt and pepper and stir constantly for 3–5 minutes. Add the chopped tomato and stir. Mix the tamarind paste with the hot water and add to the pan. Cover and let the sauce simmer for about 20–30 minutes.

Gently slide in the fish fillets, cover and cook for about 15–20 minutes on a low heat until the fish is cooked through but not overcooked. Add the prawns and cook for another 8–10 minutes or until the fish and the prawns are fully cooked and no longer translucent. Adjust the seasoning and serve with plain rice.

TIP: You can substitute 1½ tbsp southern-style advieh (see page 204) for the individual spices.

In the video, I added a dolliop of fresh cream at the very end to make it slightly milder, of course this step is optional.

Note to readers: Pls share your family version of this stew and let us know if there are any other Persian dishes that use Chillies!


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