Main Dishes/ Rice

Fish Pilao

This is a recipe from my mum’s friend who taught us Arabian, Pakistani and Kenyan dishes, you could never visit her and not be fed a whole meal!

Fish Pilao

Print Recipe
Cuisine: Arabian Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 15 minutes


    Stage 1

  • 1lb (50g) fish cut into 2inch pieces
  • 1tsp salt
  • qtr tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp red chillies
  • Stage 2

  • 8oz (250g) onions finely sliced
  • 1 cup oil for deep frying
  • Stage 3

  • half cup oil (include any left over oil from Stage 2)
  • whole masalas – 1 tsp peppercorns, 1 stick cinnamon, 4 cloves, 1 tbs whole cumin, 1 tbs whole dry coriander
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs tom puree
  • 1 tsp red chillie powder
  • 1 tbs crushed garlic
  • 3½ cups water
  • 4 tbs fresh sliced green coriander (optional)


Stage 1


Wash and pat dry the fish pieces.


Apply all ingredients and marinate for 2 hours.


Grill or shallow fry and remove into a flat dish without piling up.


Rinse 2 mugs of rice and soak in cold water for 2 hours or more.

Stage 2


Heat the oil in a wok or pan, add half the sliced onions, fry until golden brown, remove into a dish with a slotted spoon. Repeat with the second batch. Save the remaining oil for Stage 3.

Stage 3


Put half cup oil into in a large pan, add the whole masalas, when they begin to spit add the measured water, salt, tomato puree, red chillies, garlic and half the fried onions, bring to the boil.


Drain the rice in a colander, discard water add rice to the pan, return to the boil, cook uncovered on medium heat until mixture reduces and most of the water is absorbed. Switch off.


Gently arrange the cooked fish on top of the rice, cover tightly with aluminium foil and a tight lid and place in the oven on a low heat for 15 mins, or cook on lowest setting on stove top for 10mins (dhum).


Carefully use a fish slice to disturb the rice and fish and remove generous helpings onto a serving platter.


Garnish with garam masala, fresh coriander and the remainder of the brown onions and take to the table steaming hot.


Serve with a cooling cucumber raita, bundi raita or plain low fat yoghurt.