This recipe accompanies our feature on Felicia Campbell's 2015 cookbook, The Food of Oman. Read the story.
Recipe for Sayadiyah
(Salalah-Style Seared Fish in Rice)
Serves 4 to 6
One major distinction that Omanis make when cooking rice is whether the protein is cooked on, in, or under the rice. In this classic southern Omani dish from the Dhofar province, thick steaks of kingfish, tuna, or swordfish are pan-fried before being cooked in the rice with cloves, cinnamon sticks, and black peppercorns. The fish, rice, and spices steam, infusing each grain with a subtle, deeply satisfying flavor. This recipe is inspired by a family favorite of Said Abdullah Al Hashli, whose auntie prides herself on making the best in Salalah. I love it with his Coconut and Mint Yogurt Chutney (see separate recipe below).
2 cups basmati rice
2 tablespoons ghee, plus more for serving
2 medium yellow onions, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (½-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
1½ tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to season fish
6 whole cardamom pods, lightly crushed
4 whole cloves
6 whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1½ to 2 pounds tuna, swordfish, or kingfish steaks, skin and bones removed, cut into thick 2-inch pieces
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2½ tablespoons vegetable oil
Coconut and Mint Yogurt Chutney (recipe below), for serving (optional)
Place the rice in a bowl and fill with water. Swirl with your hand to rinse, then drain. Repeat a few more times, until the water becomes clear. Cover the rice with clean water and soak 30 minutes. Drain.
Heat the ghee in a medium Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat and sauté the onions until they begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook 3 minutes. Then add 4¼ cups water, the salt, cardamom pods, cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon stick. Increase the heat to high and boil 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, season the fish with a little salt and ground black pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or skillet over high heat and fry the fish until just brown, 4 to 5 minutes (the fish is fried for flavor and color and does not need to be cooked through).
Add the fish to the pot, stir, and add the drained rice. Bring to a rapid boil, then decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the rice is done, 8 to 9 minutes (check after 7 minutes). Remove the whole spices using a slotted spoon, if desired, and fluff with a fork. Finish with a little ghee and salt and black pepper. Serve with Coconut and Mint Yogurt Chutney (below).
Recipe for Coconut and Mint Yogurt Chutney
Makes about 2 cups
In the southern city of Salalah, there are a myriad of chutneys made daily to accompany grilled meats, fried breads, and signature Dhofari rice dishes like seared tuna Sayadiyah (above). Salalah native Said Al Hashli shared his aunt’s recipe for a yogurt-based coconut and mint chutney that she serves with her sayadiyah. Store in the refrigerator and use within 3 to 5 days.
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons coconut milk powder
½ cup warm water, plus more as needed
1 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic
1 serrano chile, seeded
20 fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Mix the coconut and coconut milk powder with the warm water and let sit 5 minutes.
Using a blender or immersion blender, purée the coconut mixture with the yogurt, garlic, chile, mint, parsley, and salt until smooth, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons more water, if needed. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
Both recipes reprinted with permission from The Food of Oman: Recipes and Stories from the Gateway to Arabia by Felicia Campbell. Photography by Ariana Lindquist/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.
| Photograph of Sayayidah (top) © Ms. Lindquist. Photograph of Chutney © Cheryl Sternman Rule |