Ben and I are die hard Bill Granger fans and when, last week, I had a hankering for a warm, protein-rich fish stew, he was our go-to inspiration – the perfect master for something clean, easy and packed with layers of fragrant spice and comforting, grounding flavours.
Because sometimes the body gives such strong call for a certain food in in my training and experience this is when we need to listen most. Our bodies know much better than our minds what they require and in times of stress, exhaustion, growth or transition, protein-dense nourishment is often craved with a ferocity that can surprise many of us. And when I need fish, there’s no two ways about it. In my book I cook mainly salmon, and tend to encourage eating wild cold water fish above others – for both their omega-3 content and the purity of the environment they live in. In this mix, our local fishmonger gave us a lovely frozen parcel of salmon, haddock, coley and other white fish and it worked brilliantly.
The spice mix here is a wonderful fusion of turmeric, cumin, ginger and cinnamon, and with added saffron it really brings the fish and potatoes alive with a fresh Moroccan feel. Bill’s original recipe calls for chickpeas but since Ben is the world’s greatest lover of potatoes, and they add such a comforting and grounding element to the dish, they were the perfect replacement as the British summer plays its tricks on us and a bowl of evening warmth an comfort is called for. You could also serve this with some nutty short grain brown rice, and steamed greens – and the leftovers, in my experience at least, taste eeeeeven better than the original.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
a pinch of saffron
a pinch of cayenne pepper
400g cherry tomatoes (or 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes)
a pinch of sea salt
500 g firm fish, cut into chunks
3 large white potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons honey or coconut palm sugar
salt and pepper to season
chopped parsley to garnish
In a large sturdy pan, heat the olive oil over medium to low heat. Add the onion and sweat it until it is translucent, then add the garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, saffron and cinnamon and cooker two minutes, stirring all the time. You want to make sure the heat is not too high as the mix burns quite easily.
Then add the cayenne, chopped tomatoes, potatoes, salt and 250 ml (1 cup) of water and simmer for half an hour, stirring often.
Finally, add the fish and simmer for 5 minutes, or until it is just tender. Add the honey or coconut palm sugar and cook for a further 2–3 minutes. Serve with parsley, salt to season and a good crack of black pepper.