Santosh Shah: Spiced Monkfish with Sesame & Tomato Sauce Recipe (Poleko Machha Ra Jhol)

Santosh Shah: Spiced Monkfish with Sesame & Tomato Sauce Recipe (Poleko Machha Ra Jhol)

  1. List Of Ingredients
  2. 500g (18oz) boned monkfish fillet, taken from the thick upper cut (or any thick cut of white fish fillet)
  3. 125g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  4. For the marinade
  5. 2 tablespoons ginger paste
  6. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  7. 1 tablespoon ground garam masala
  8. 50g (2oz) fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
  9. Juice of ½ a lemon
  10. 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
  11. or medium hot chilli powder
  12. 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  13. 12 tablespoons natural (plain)
  14. Greek yogurt
  15. 1 tablespoon Kasundi mustard
  16. (Bengali Kasundi mustard paste)
  17. Salt, to taste
  18. For the sauce
  19. 75g (½ cup) sesame seeds
  20. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  21. ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  22. 1 teaspoon Samagrah (Whole Spice Garam Masala, see page 194)
  23. 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  24. 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  25. 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder, or medium hot chilli powder
  26. 1 teaspoon Nepali Barha Masala (Nepali Garam Masala, see page 190)
  27. 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  28. 50g (3½ tablespoons) salted butter
  29. 3 tomatoes, diced
  30. Salt, to taste
  31. A handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
  32. To serve
  33. Pyaj Ko Achar (Red Onion & Chilli Salad, see page 159)


1. Cut the monkfish into 4 equal fillets or ask your fishmonger to do this. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients of the fish marinade and mix well. Add the monkfish fillets and delicately mix them in, making sure they are well coated. Place in the refrigerator for 1–2 hours.

2. Prepare the sauce. First, dry roast the sesame seeds in a non-stick frying pan, until golden all over. Remove from the pan, set aside and leave to cool. Place in a pestle and mortar and crush to a powder. Alternatively, use a small electric spice grinder.

3. Heat the oil in the frying pan. Add the fenugreek seeds and whole garam masala, and let them crackle. Add the ginger, garlic and green chillies and cook for a couple of minutes until soft.

4. Add the ground spices and butter and cook for another few minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and salt, and cook until the tomatoes get soft and mushy.

5. Add the ground sesame seeds to the tomato mixture and immediately remove from the heat. Add the coriander and leave to cool slightly. Pour into a blender or a thermomixer and blend until very smooth. Set aside and keep warm.

6. Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan /375°F/Gas 5).

7. Spread the flour on a plate. Remove the monkfish fillets from the marinade. Coat each fillet with flour and place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Bake for 15–20 minutes, until the fish is golden brown and cooked through.

8. Spoon some of the tomato sauce onto a plate and place a monkfish fillet on top. Add a little of the salad on the side. Repeat for the other plates and serve.

Extracted from Ayla: A Feast of Nepali Dishes from Terai, Hills and the Himalayas by Santosh Shah. Published by DK, 3 February 2022. £20.

Dorling Kindersley: Matt Russell