GHALIEH MAHI (Persian Fish Stew) 

Written Recipe and Still Images by Rural Life on YouTube

Ghalieh Mahi is a traditional Persian fish stew that’s as rich in history as it is in taste.

The dish features tender pieces of white fish, typically cod or halibut, that have been gently simmered in a sauce so vibrant it’s like the Caspian Sea in a bowl.


  • 2 lbs of firm white fish fillets (such as cod or halibut), cut into serving-sized pieces
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of fresh fenugreek leaves, finely chopped (or 2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1/4 cup of tamarind paste
  • 1/2 cup of water (for diluting tamarind paste)
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of water (additional, for the stew)


  1. Prepare the Tamarind: In a small bowl, mix the tamarind paste with 1/2 cup of water until well combined. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any seeds or fibers, and set the smooth tamarind water aside.
  2. Sauté the Aromatics: Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté until they become translucent. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
  3. Add the Herbs and Spices: To the pot, add the chopped cilantro and fenugreek leaves. Sauté for a few minutes until the herbs wilt down. Then, sprinkle in the turmeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt. Stir well to combine.
  4. Create the Stew Base: Stir in the tomato paste and the additional 1/2 cup of water. Allow the mixture to simmer gently for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Combine with Tamarind: Pour the tamarind water into the pot and stir well. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes to meld the flavors.
  6. Cook the Fish: In a separate pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Lightly season the fish fillets with salt and pepper, then sear them for about 2 minutes on each side until they develop a golden crust.
  7. Finish the Stew: Carefully transfer the seared fish fillets into the stew, spooning some of the sauce over the top of the fish. Cover the pot and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and the flavors are well combined.
  8. Serve: Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve the Ghalieh Mahi hot, accompanied by steamed basmati rice and a wedge of lemon for an extra zing.