Fish Machboos

Hello folks!

It’s a brand new year and we also usher in a new decade with 2020.

As you already know, I’m a huge seafood fan and I enjoy eating seafood almost on a daily basis. Squid, shrimps and all sorts of fish are cooked at my place pretty much everyday. The kids get their dose of Omega 3 & 6 with salmon and sardines.

Well, today I using Hammour, also known as Grouper, it’s a very popular fish in the GCC. The larger ones are best used as fillet for fish n chips or seafood chowders. Hammour has a lovely white flesh and this fish is perfect for kids too. Today I am making Fish Machboos, Machboos is the Arabic way to cook meat with rice or veggies. Each region of the gulf has a different way to dish out machboos, so today you can try my seafood version. Arabic food is pretty healthy, similar to the Mediterranean style of eating meals with lots of salads, mezze and main courses of fish or meat. I have done my level best to simplify this elongated cooking format. Hope you like this one pot meal which is also a lovely addition to any party menu. So let’s head to the ingredients now!


3 whole medium sized Hammour (grouper) or Sheri Fish cleaned

2 cups basmati rice

¼ cup vegetable oil for frying the fish

Whole dry spices- 1 bay leaf, 3 green cardamoms, 2 sticks cinnamon, 4 cloves, ½ tsp black pepper corns

2 dry lumi (Arabic dry lemons)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 onions, sliced long

1 green chili, chopped

1 or 2 tomatoes chopped

1 handful cilantro leaves

½ tsp turmeric

½ Arabic spice mix

½ tsp red chill powder

½ tsp coriander powder

Himalayan Salt, to taste

2 cups basmati rice

1 Pinch saffron

4 tsp warm milk


1 tsp ginger-garlic paste

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp cumin powder

1 tsp red chill powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon juice


Roasted Pine nuts or sliced almonds

Fried onions

Soak the saffron in the warm milk. Wash the basmati rice well and soak it for a minimum of 30 minutes. I add a tsp of vinegar to my rice while it soaks, it whites the rice naturally and you get a longer grain too. Drain it well before the cooking process.

Clean the fish well and cut slits on each side. You can even cut it into smaller pieces, I prefer keeping the fish whole since it has much better visual appeal when you have guests at home. Mix the marinade ingredients and make a paste of it. Then rub the marinade paste all over the fish. Set this aside for a minimum of 15 minutes. Fry the fish in hot oil (use a deep casserole) for 15 minutes on each side until its golden brown and set it aside.

Now in the same casserole dish, add the whole spices, chopped garlic and onions and fry this well. Once the onions are nicely browned, add the spice powders and stir fry well. Now add the green chill, tomato, salt and cilantro leaves, cover and let it cook until the tomatoes are soft. Now add the basmati rice, saffron milk and 4 cups water. Add 1 crushed and 1 whole dry lemon (lumi) with salt to the rice-water mixture and let this come to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the flame and bring it to a simmer, cover and cook it well. Once the rice looks cooked, add the fish over the rice and let this slow cook for 20 minutes to 1 hr.

You can serve this delicious Fish Machboos topped with nuts and fried onions and a side of Salata Hara (a spicy tomato crush) that pairs well with this rice. To make Salata Hara, Blend together 1 large diced tomato, 1 green chili, 1 clove garlic and a handful of cilantro with ½ tsp salt. Blend it well, until it’s just about crushed, it shouldn’t be a totally mashed liquid, you need to see small bits of cilantro and tiny chunks of tomato too.

Tip- This is a lovely one pot meal idea, but if you are making it for kids, you can replace whole fish with hammour fish fillet, and avoid the green chill and the addition of red chili powder.

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