Machboos simmach (spiced fried fish with saffron flavoured rice)

Recipe from Shaikha Al Ali, a Marketing major student at Zayed University Dubai, and founder of the cookery blog,

  • Serves 4-6

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 0
  • fat 0g
  • saturates 0g
  • carbs 0g
  • sugars 0g
  • fibre 0g
  • protein 0g
  • salt 0g


  • 1.5 kg white fish, cut into large pieces
  • 1 ½ cup of sunflower oil
  • ½ tsp dried coriander
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • Pinch of chilli powder
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 5 large shallots, chopped into four cubes
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped into four cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp buhar (a traditional spice mix available at Union Co-operative or spice stores)
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • ½ tsp chilli
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp dried ginger
  • 3 pcs lumi
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 3 chicken stock cubes
  • 5 green chillies, stems removed
  • 2 handfuls of fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 3 cups basmati white rice, rinsed
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil


  1. Coat fish in the marinade, cover with aluminum foil, and refrigerate for 30 mins to an hour.

  2. Heat oil in a pan, and fry the fish until it has seared and browned, don’t overcook. Remove and rest on a kitchen paper.

  3. To make the khalta, heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onions and sauté until tender. Add the garlic and keep cooking – be careful not to burn. Add the tomato and follow with the tomato paste. Add all the spices as well as the stock cube, and then add the fish, chillies, fresh coriander and lumi.

  4. In a small bowl, place a generous pinch of saffron with a little water and allow to infuse. Set aside.

  5. To prepare the rice, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Salt the water generously, and add the oil. Then, add rice and cook on high heat for 10-15 mins. Drain and set aside.

  6. In a larger pan, heat oil. Add a a layer of rice (around a quarter of the total quantity). Top with the fish and the khalta spice mix. Then add the rest of the rice, drizzle over the saffron water, cover and cook on low heat for around 2 hrs. Serve with freshly chopped coriander.

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