This aromatic and healthy dish is a favorite for Persian New Year festivities and year round.

Mahi Sorkh kardeh – Fried Fish

A traditional Nowruz lunch or dinner always includes a platter of sabzi polow (mixed herb rice) with mahi (fish). The fish is usually served either doodi (smoked/salted) or sorkh kardeh (pan-fried). There are many wonderful fish varieties in Iran, from darya-ye Khazar (Caspian Sea) in the north and khalij-e Fars (Persian Gulf) regions in the south and each region has its own selection of favorite fish. In the past, any delicate seafood products from the Caspian Sea or the Persian Gulf regions would not have reached a far away distance without spoilage. Unlike nowadays, when most food ingredients are available all year round, back then having fresh seafood for those who didn’t live near these areas was a luxury. Therefore, salting/smoking and drying fish and shrimp were the traditional ways of food preservation long before the technology and the invention of the yakhchal (refrigerator). Although, Iranians had mastered their own method of preserving ice in mud brick domes called, yachchal (ice-pit) dating back to 400 BC. Mahi sefid (whitefish) from the Caspian Sea region is among the preferred type of fish for the Nowruz feast. The popularity of mahi-sefid grew in other parts of the country since it became available with the improved means of transportation and refrigeration.Whitefish has many bones in it so you just need to be very careful eating it! However, its pin bones are easy to remove.


Serves 4

4 pieces (2lb) flounder fillets, or any fish of your choice, scales/skin removed
1/3 cup flour, all purpose
1-2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves, crushed
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper powder *optional
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder *optional
A pinch of turmeric powder *optional
1-2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 limes or a large narenj (Seville orange)


  1. Rinse fish under cold water and pat dry.
  2. Season the fillets with salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried fenugreek leaves.
  3. In a large frying pan, melt the butter and add the oil on medium-high heat.
  4. In a bowl combine the flour with a small amount of turmeric. Coat flounder fillets in the flour mixture, gently shake off any excess flour before placing the fillets onto the hot pan one at a time. Lightly brown fish on both sides for a few minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and place on a platter. Squeeze fresh lime juice or juice of a Seville orange over the fish.

Serve with sabzi polow (mixed herb rice), salad, and torshi.

For more great persian recipes visit the Tumeric and Saffron Blog.

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