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Seared sea bass with bottle gourd stir-fry and fenugreek sauce

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

I do like to spend time in the kitchen creating the perfect meal. This recipe is one I was saving for that perfect day. This is a complex recipe with lots of steps and components, but it all comes together beautifully. The simple fish is scented with onion seeds and served alongside a fresh and delicate potato-bottle gourd stir-fry and finally topped with a flavorful korma-style cashew-fenugreek leaf sauce. Subtle and elegant flavours describe this dish, a dish that satisfied my craving for a sophisticated dish. This cookbook belongs in the section for fine/contemporary Indian restaurants in London, yes I actually have a section for that in my cookbook collection. Elegant and contemporary dishes, like this one, make this cookbook one I love to cook from. Most of the recipes are some work, but everyone is startling in both presentation and flavour. One of my favourite cookbooks on my shelf. I highly recommend it to those who are looking for something different and want to step up their game.

For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.


For the sea bass:

1 tablespoon onion (kalonj) seeds

4-5 sea bass fillets, about 1/4 lb each


1 tablespoon oil

For the bottle gourd stir-fry:

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1-2 potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, or baby potatoes halved

1 small bottle gourd, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon ginger paste

10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved

Juice of 1 lime or 1/2 lemon

Cilantro, minced

For the Fenugreek sauce:

2 tablespoons oil

1 onion finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 1/2 cups roasted cashew nuts, ground into a fine powder or paste

1/2 cup yoghurt

4 tablespoons fish stock (optional)

1 tablespoon ginger paste

2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori meth)

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt to taste

Juice of 1 lime or 1.2 lemon

Marinate the fish with the onion seeds and salt and allow it to stand in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

To make the bottle gourd stir-fry:

Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. They will begin to crackle in about 10-15 seconds, add the turmeric and stir well. Add the potatoes immediately and stir. Cook on medium heat till the potatoes are cooked through, about 10 minutes. At this stage you may add a touch of water and close the container to allow the potatoes to cook through. However, cook off all the water and the finished potatoes should have a crisp outside.

Add the ginger, salt, sugar and bottle gourd and cook closed for about 5 mire minutes till the bottle gourd is cooked through but not mushy. Squeeze in the lime juice and mix well. Toss occasionally at this point. Taste and adjust salt, tartness and other spices as needed. Please note this is a very mild dish that gets its flavour from the sauce.

Take the dish off the stove and add the tomatoes and cilantro. Mix in and keep warm to assemble. All the vegetables should have a firm structure and the tomatoes should be barely cooked.

To make the fenugreek sauce:

Heat the oil in a non-stick pot and add the onions. Fry till the onions have caramelized to a light golden colour. Add the turmeric and cashew paste and mix in. Cook till the cashew paste begins to bubble and start to colour to a light golden. add the yoghurt, and fish stock if using, ginger, salt, sugar and fenugreek leaves. If the sauce is not runny enough add a touch of water and simmer gently till the oils begin to separate from the sauce. Keep the sauce liquid, and stir constantly as the cashew paste tends to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

Turn off the heat and add the lime juice. Taste and adjust the salt and tartness. Set aside. The sauce tends to thicken as it sits, add some water to loosen it. Heat gently for serving.

To cook the fish :

Heat the oil in a frying pan, one large enough to hold all the fillets if possible, Add the fish and sauté on medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes per side, till it has taken on a light golden colour. Flip and sauté for 2-3 minutes. The outside should be lightly golden and the inside just cooked. The fish is already dead, please don’t ruin it by frying it till it is tough and stringy. Assemble and serve immediately.

To assemble:

You can assemble this dish in a number of ways, so be creative. Place the fish on the plate, and top with a generous drizzle of the sauce and the vegetable on the side. Or, make a pool of the sauce on the plate and top it with the fish so that some sauce is visible outside, and add the vegetable n the side. Finally, add the vegetable in the centre of the plate in a neat circle, top with a fillet of fish and either drizzle the sauce on the fish or around the plate. Be creative and serve a beautiful plate whenever you can.

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