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The Hungry Nomad: Ghalieh Mahi (Southern-Iranian Fish Stew)

February 10, 2011

Ghalieh Mahi (Southern-Iranian Fish Stew)

This delicious and pungent dish comes from the south of Iran and is less known than the other more popular Iranian stews. Ghalieh Mahi has very rich flavors including a melange of garlic, tamarind paste, cilantro and fenugreek. It is best served with Basmati Rice.

  • King Fish steaks or any fish that can be cut into small cubes and does not fall apart easily OR Prawns (I personally put a mix of Tilapia and Prawns for a wonderful combination- you can substitute for any type of fish you prefer)
  • 2 Bunches of Cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoon dry Fenugreek available at most Middle Eastern/Indian stores 
  • 1 Cup chopped fresh Garlic 
  • 1/2 Cup tamarind (or more depending on how sour and tangy you want your Ghalieh Mahi to be)Pls note: There are two types of tamarind sauce: the one in a jar that is in liquid form- I personally do not like this as it is too sour and tangy and tastes like chemicals. Try to buy tamarind in bulk form. The bulk form comes in a square shape with seeds in it and has a sour flavour.  Remove the seeds and soak in 2-3 cups of warm water.
  • 2 whole red chili peppers (optional, although highly recommended to add a spicy flavour to the dish)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
  • 2/3 Cups of warm water
  1. Pour the dry fenugreek into warm water and let it soak for 30 minutes
  2. Chop the cilantro well and sauté with two table spoons of  olive oil or any oil you prefer on low heat.  
  3. Drench the fenugreek and add to the sauteed herbs; Continue to sauté until the herbs permeate a melange of smells 
  4. At the same time, soak the tamarind paste in 2-3 cups of warm/hot water. Once it has fully soaked, drain the water, allowing the juice to sip through, leaving out the seeds and skin. 
  5. Next, add the tamarind paste, salt and pepper to the herbs and then turn the knob on low heat.
  6. Optional step: add chili peppers to the paste 
  7. Add 2/3 cup of warm water and put the lid on until you are finished with the next step.
In another pan:
  1. Chop garlic
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and sauté the chopped garlic until slightly golden
  3. After a few minutes remove the garlic and place it in a small dish aside 
  4. Saute the fish/prawns for a few minutes until slightly cooked. Remove and set aside
  5. Add the sautéed garlic to the cooking ghalieh (herbs and tamarind paste) and if you like here you can add 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  6. Set your timer for 30 minute and let the ghalieh cook on low heat 
  7. After 30 minutes add the fish and let it cook for an additional 15-30 minutes.
This dish can be varied depending on personal taste. For more of a garlic flavour, add more garlic. For a more sour and tangy flavor, add more tamarind paste. For a more spicy flavour add a few more dried red chili peppers.

Serve with a side of basmati rice and radish

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At April 15, 2011 , Blogger Darius said...

Parsley is not used in this dish. Cilantro (Coriander) and a small amount of Fenugreek. (about a quarter of the amount of coriander). Too much fenugreek makes the dish bitter.

(Parsley is used in Ghormeh sabzi, an entirely different dish with beef or lamb).

At April 23, 2011 , Anonymous t.m. said...

I have fresh fenugreek from the garden, but its taste seems to 'evaporate' during cooking. Would it be better to use it dried?

At April 24, 2011 , Blogger Hungry Nomad said...

Hello T.M
From my experience dried fenugreek works best... Although i have never made it with fresh fenugreek. Although please note that when using dried fenugreek I let it soak as well. Make sure that you fry the fenugreek before adding the other ingredients! This is a very important step and allows the taste to become captured. Next time try dry fenugreek and let me know how it turns out.


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