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This fish dish has a sweet-and-sour base

  • NEW YORK TIMES PHOTO

The classic sweet and sour combination of onion and tomato makes the base for this quick fish kharra masala. Optional mustard seeds add pungent flavor and pair well with lemon juice, ginger and the smoldering heat of dried round red chiles. Use any kind of white fish you like and add more onion for more sweetness. Serve this bright and punchy dish with rice or roti, or by itself. For a saucier dish that’s more like a curry, stir in a half cup of water, fish stock or coconut milk after Step 2 and bring to a simmer.

Kharra Masala Fish

Ingredients:

• 2 tablespoons ghee or neutral oil

• 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (optional)

• 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (optional)

• 6 dried whole round red chiles, preferably Dundicut

• 1 medium Spanish onion, or white, finely chopped

• 1 teaspoon garam masala

• 1 teaspoon ground cumin

• 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

• 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chile powder

• 4 medium plum tomatoes, chopped

• 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

• 1 1/2 pounds firm, skinless white fish, such as cod or haddock, cut into 3-inch pieces

• Juice of 1 medium lemon, about 1/4 cup

• 2 chopped Thai green chiles

• 1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and julienned

• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

Heat ghee in a medium pot over medium until it melts, 30 to 45 seconds. Add the seeds and round red chiles. Stir continuously until fragrant, about 30 to 45 seconds.

Add onion. Stir occasionally, and continue cooking until it starts to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garam masala, cumin, turmeric and chile powder. Add the tomatoes and salt, and stir so all the ingredients are evenly mixed. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are tender and the oil starts to separate (you’ll see the oil form an outline around the jammy tomato), about 7 minutes.

Add the fish pieces in one layer, cover and let cook over low heat for 7 minutes. Remove the lid, and flip the fish pieces so they are coated with masala on all sides. Cover again and let it cook on low until the fish is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Top with lemon juice, green chiles, ginger and fresh cilantro. Serve with roti, rice or by itself.

Total time: 25 minutes, serves 4.

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