Oven-Roasted Fish with Onion, Lemon, Fenugreek & Cilantro (Mahi-e Shekam Por)

Oven-Roasted Fish with Onion, Lemon, Fenugreek & Cilantro (Mahi-e Shekam Por)

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From: EatingWell Magazine, September/October 2018

Cooking whole fish is easy—most fish markets sell them already cleaned and butterflied with the backbone and rib bones removed. (If not, ask the fishmonger to do it for you.) Leaving the head and tail intact makes them easy to work with—and the presentation at the table is impressive. A flavorful stuffing made with tangy tamarind and aromatic herbs is a great foil for the mild fish.

Ingredients 6 servings

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  • Filling
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup fresh fenugreek leaves or ¼ cup dried (see Tips)
  • 2 medium heads garlic, minced
  • 1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • ¼ cup tamarind paste or concentrate (see Tips)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Fish
  • 2 lemons, cut into ¼-inch rounds
  • 1 medium onion, cut into ¼-inch rounds
  • 2 whole red snapper (about 1 pound each), cleaned, with head and tail intact
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water


  • Prep

  • Ready In

  1. To prepare filling: Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add thinly sliced onion and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, 3 to 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until the onion is dark golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add cilantro, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, tamarind, tomato paste, turmeric, cayenne (or crushed red pepper) and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cilantro is very soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. To prepare fish: Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  4. Place half of the lemon and onion rounds in a single layer in the middle of the prepared pan. Rub each fish inside and out with oil and salt. Divide the filling between the fish, spooning it into the cavity; stuff with the remaining lemons and onions. Lay the fish side by side on the lemons and onions on the pan. Drizzle water around them and cover the pan tightly with foil.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the fish are just cooked through, about 15 minutes more.
  • Tips: Fenugreek: Both the leaves (fresh or dried) and their mustard-colored seeds (whole or ground) have a complex flavor that's a little nutty and almost maple-y. Use it up: Ground seeds can be used in curry powders, teas, rubs or as a seasoning for cooked vegetables. Add fresh leaves to salads, sauces and curries.
  • Tamarind: The sticky, candy-sour pulp found inside the pods from the tamarind tree is used to make a concentrated paste (with or without seeds) that's common to dishes from across southern Asia. Use it up: Make pad thai; stir into sautéed vegetables or salad dressing.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: 4 ounces fish & ¼ cup filling
  • Per serving: 317 calories; 19 g fat(3 g sat); 2 g fiber; 13 g carbohydrates; 24 g protein; 26 mcg folate; 67 mg cholesterol; 5 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 964 IU vitamin A; 20 mg vitamin C; 73 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 475 mg sodium; 659 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (33% daily value)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 1
  • Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 3 lean protein, 2½ fat

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