This is a tandoori-inspired dish, where the marinade creates a delicious colour and keeps the fish moist. The idea is that the subtle spices enhance, rather than overpower, the fish. The rice is made a bit like a pilaf, but without the onion or bay or cinnamon, though all those things can go in it if you like.
- 400 g (about 1½ cups) natural yoghurt
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1½ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1½ tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
- ½ lemon, juiced, plus 1 tbsp lemon juice extra
- 1 kg flathead fillets, skin removed
- 2 large tomatoes
- 4 small Lebanese-style cucumbers
- 1 small green chilli, finely sliced
- handful of coriander (optional)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 100 g butter
- 800 g (4 cups) basmati rice
- 2 tsp salt flakes
- 1 litre (4 cups) water
- generous pinch (about 0.2 g) saffron, steeped in 1 tbsp water overnight or at least a few hours
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
First, prepare the marinade. Pour the yoghurt into a bowl and add the salt, turmeric, clove, ginger, ground coriander and cumin. Stir to combine before adding the juice of ½ lemon. Add the fish and allow to marinate for no more than 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the salad. Cut the tomatoes and cucumbers into large dice or bite-size chunks. Toss with the chilli, coriander, extra lemon juice and oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To make the rice, melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat before adding the rice, stirring to coat evenly. Fry it until it warms right through. You want to lightly toast the rice by frying, but not so much that it actually goes brown. Add the salt and water, then stir in the saffron. Cover, bring to the boil, reduce heat to very low, and simmer for 10 minutes without removing the lid. Turn off the heat and leave for at least another 5 minutes (preferably 10 minutes), before lifting the lid and using a fork to fluff the rice.
When rice is ready, cook the fish.
On a hot, very lightly oiled frying pan (skillet) or barbecue flat plate, fry the flathead for about 2–3 minutes either side.
Serve the fish with the rice, the salad, and perhaps some more coriander on the side.