This heavily-spiced and rich fish stew hails from the southern provinces of Iraq.The south of Iraq has ready access to both river and sea fish, and hence fish stews are more common than in central or northern Iraq.
The stew is very rich and is concocted of a medley of herbs, vegetables, and spices, before lightly fried fish is added.
Although I used fish fillets here, it is more traditional to use fish steaks, which still have bones and skin intact.
I chose to lightly pan-fry the fish before adding it to the stew, but you can skip this step and add it directly to the stew and have a more poached effect.
Serve, as always, with rice on the side.
4 white fish filets (about 600-800g)
2 or 3 dried limes (loomi)
1 large green chilli, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 cup chopped dill, chopped
1 cup chopped coriander, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 1/2 cups hot water
3-4 Tbsp oil
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
11/2 tsp salt
Mix all the spices together in a small bowl, set aside.
Saute the onion an about a tablespoon of oil until transparent.
Add the garlic, saute for a minute then add two teaspoons of the spice mix.
Saute for an additional minute then add the loomi, green chili, dill, coriander, and tomatoes.
Saute for about 5 minutes, then add the tomato paste and hot water.
Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer about 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the fish fillets into roughly the size of a cigarette packet, and rub with the remaining spice mix.
Fry the fish in a couple of tablespoons of oil until golden on both sides.
Carefully add the fish to the vegetable stew, and let simmer for 20 more minutes.
Serve with rice on the side.