For as long as we have lived together in the United States, my husband has held Indian food at arms’ length. We used to cook certain vegetarian Indian meals in Argentina, but it seems that the meals we would have at American Indian restaurants were just so heavy and heat-inducing that he ended up putting his foot down. Our arrangement was we could go out to eat Indian once a year, and that had to take place during the wintertime. I agreed, knowing that I could always go with other friends and family who actually had an appreciation for Indian food.
A couple months ago, we had gone out on a chilly fall day to try to find some health food stores and had failed miserably. Dejected, we headed home on our skates, our heads hanging low. When to my surprise, my husband suddenly brakes in front of an Indian food restaurant that we had passed by so many times (and always glossed over on Seamless) – Gandhi Fine Indian Cuisine. To the outsider, this place hardly looked like “Fine” anything. It was completely empty, only a few tables in the store. Clean, but sparse, completely lacking in Indian decorations; to access the bathroom you even had to walk through the kitchen. I sadly thought to myself “there goes the once a year Indian food allocation”, desperately hoping this place would prove me wrong.
It ended up being revolutionary! The food was so spectacular, that it is now common for my husband to specifically request Gandhi Fine Indian. Our favorite dish is the tandoori whole red snapper. This dish is truly divine. The first time we ordered it, it came with 3 pieces of the most amazing broccoli either of us had ever eaten. We tried to ask for more in later visits (even to the point of asking for “double extra broccoli”), but the most we have ever received was 6 pieces of broccoli; hence, the broccoli nazi – as Seinfeld would say– became the term for the otherwise very nice owner.
The word Tandoori is used to describe a meal that has been cooked in a Tandoor oven (a cylindrical clay or metal oven). This special oven dryly cooks the meat, somehow leaving it tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Now, this doesn’t mean that unless you have a Tandoori oven you can’t make it yourself! Seeing a bottle of Tandoori Masala spice at the store, I realized I had a shot at avoiding the broccoli nazi without forgoing deliciousness. So, I searched the internet for oven baked Tandoori fish. Turns out, it’s really quite easy to prepare and cook, and I have to say, it was bone-sucking amazing! And, the great thing about cooking it in the stove is that the juices from the fish help flavor the veggies underneath.
Keep in mind, the fish needs to marinate a few hours, so prepare it ahead of time. This recipe is adapted from here, given what I had in my kitchen. Plan on 1 fish per person- these are not very large fish.
Salt, to season
1 lemon, juiced
Cultured sour cream- 2 tablespoons (Alternatively, you can also use greek yogurt or mayo, I use this sour cream and it is oh so tasty- highly recommend it!)
Garlic, crushed – 1 teaspoon
Vinegar- ½ teaspoon
Ginger, crushed- 1 teaspoon
Green Chilies chopped small- 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder- 1 teaspoon
Red Chili Flakes- ½ teaspoon
Cumin powder- ½ teaspoon
Tandoori spice Mix- 1 teaspoon
Paprika- 1 teaspoon
2 Whole Red Snappers (When you purchase the whole fish at the market, ask them to remove the scales and the inside parts, but leave the head and tail)
1 lemon cut into quarters
4 cloves Whole Garlic, coarsely crushed
1 tbsp Coconut oil
1 Bell Pepper
1 large Onion
1/2 head of Broccoli or Cauliflower
Make the marinade: Mix the salt, lemon juice, sour cream, garlic, vinegar, ginger, green chilies, turmeric, vinegar, red chili flakes, cumin, tandoori spice mix, and paprika. Beat one egg and add to this mix. This will allow to the fish to look glossy after it bakes. Cut 3 slits vertically on each side of the fish with a sharp knife making sure not to cut through completely. Rub the marinade over the fish and make sure it is stuffed inside the slits. Stuff the extra crushed garlic in the incisions made on the fish. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, max 6 hours. I let mine sit for a bit less than 4 hours.
Prepare the dish: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Julienne the onions and bell peppers, and cut the broccoli/cauliflower florets into small chunks. Take the tablespoon of coconut oil and massage into the veggies and place in a glass 9×11 deep baking dish. Pull the fish out of the marinating bowl and set aside. Pour the remaining marinade over the veggies and mix well. Place a rack over the baking dish and set the fish on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes without turning the fish. Put into broiler and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the fish over, and cook for another 3-4 minutes (this side will require more broiling time). Pull it out when it is browned.
Squeeze some lemon juice onto the prepared dish. Enjoy!!