Ghalieh Mahi – Persian Herbed Fish

Ghalieh Mahi is a fragrant fish dish that originates from the Caspian Sea region in Iran where fresh fish is abundant. It has an exciting piquant flavour that is typical of many Persian dishes and is served mostly at the beginning of spring. My version is prepared differently to the traditional version (which is a stew) as I bake mine in the oven in order to retain the shape and texture of the pieces of fish. You could make the stew and then add add Salmon fillets or another type of fish that will retain its shape if you want to stick more to the original version.

I also add some spinach as sometimes mountains of fresh herbs are hard to come buy and it works well as a replacement/addition here. Traditionally this dish would be made with fresh fenugreek leaves which you can never find here in Cape Town – even the dry is hard to come by (Atlas trading being the exception) so I have omitted it here so as not to put you off making it. However if you have dried fenugreek then add a couple of tablespoons into the herby mix. Another key ingredient to create the sour taste characteristic of ghalieh mahi is tamarind paste but I have used pomegranate molasses as I love the sweet/sour element it adds and I make it myself at home.

If you want to use the tamarind paste then it’s better to buy packaged tamarind and make your own paste by soaking the pulp in hot water and separating the seeds and stems using your fingers rather than buying a jar of the condensed tamarind sauce.

If you want to see a video of me making this dish then head on over to my You Tube Channel – Aliya’s Vibrant Life and check the recipe video I have there. You can also find my videos on my Facebook page and in a cropped version on IGTV 🙂

Ingredients – 5 servings (200g fish each – modest potion)

1 kg white fish fillets – I use Kob or Hake generally

1 finely chopped onion

1 green chilli deseeded and chopped (optional)

4 cloves garlic chopped or crushed

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tbsp plain flour

200 baby spinach leaves wilted, water squeezed out and chopped

1 bunch chopped spring onion

50gm chopped coriander & handful chopped Parsley

3 to 4 tablespoons pomegranate syrup

½ tsp salt

200ml water


Heat the oven to moderate or 180C/160C fan

Sauté onions in oil until golden brown, add garlic and chilli if using.

Add the spring onion, coriander & parsley and sauté for 5mins

Add wilted chopped spinach and stir in pomegranate syrup and water – simmer for 5mins

Dust your fish fillets with the flour and turmeric (You can also add the turmeric to the onions and spring onions at the start) and spoon over the sauce.

Roast in a preheated oven for 25mins.

Serve with fluffy white “Chellow” Persian style rice and some tourshi (pickles) and a fresh green salad.

“Noosh – e – Jaan” (May it be a pleasure to your being – Iranian version of “Bon appetit”)