Coated in a simple blend of spices and then fried, this crispy-skinned, spicy-fleshed fish will awaken the senses and, if you're lucky, clear your sinuses as well. When I travelled across Andhra Pradesh once, the restaurateur Khalil Ahmed observed quite accurately that this Indian state's food has three chilli levels – spicy, spicier and spiciest. But don't let any of this put you off, as you can adjust the chilli powder and pepper to match your personal spice preference.
I was lucky enough to learn this recipe from two expert Chefs, Chalapanthi Rao and Abhishek Kukreti. Serve with a simple salad of courgette and carrot ribbons or Palak Chana.
5cm fresh root ginger, finely grated
8 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbs lemon juice
4 sea bream or sea bass fillets (skin on)
8 Tbs oil
Lemon wedges, to serve
Put the ginger and garlic into a bowl and stir in the ground spices, lemon juice to make a marinade. Add salt to your taste.
Now, use a sharp knife to make three vertical slanted slits (like a forward slash) on the skin side of each fish fillet. Slather even amounts of the marinade all over the fillets. If time allows, leave the fish to sit in its marinade for 20–30 minutes.
When you are ready to cook, pour the oil into a large frying pan and place over a medium heat. When it’s hot, place the fillets into the pan skin side down and fry for 2 minutes, then flip over and fry for another 2 minutes.
You may need to do this in two batches. Serve sizzling hot, skin side up, with lemon wedges on the side.
Credits: Masala by Mallika Basu is published by Bloomsbury ($45.00) Out now!
Photo Credits: Masala by Mallika Basu is published by Bloomsbury ($45.00) Out now!