Grilled sea bass, crisp okra fingers, coconut rice and dhal sauce

This grilled sea bass recipe from Vineet Bhatia has a wonderful mix of textures. Make sure you cook the okra just before serving in order for them to be wonderfully crisp. Carom (ajwain) seeds, gram (chickpea) flour and chaat masala spice blend are all easily found online or from Indian grocery stores. For more inspiration see our entire fish curry collection.

First published in 2015




Grilled sea bass

Crispy okra

Coconut rice

Dhal sauce


  • Deep fat fryer
  • Stainless steel rings


First make the dhal sauce. Wash the lentils under cold running water, then place in a deep pan and cover with 4 times their volume of water. Leave to soak for an hour
Put the lentils on the heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the lentils are soft and broken down, skimming off any scum from the surface. Add more water, if necessary, to prevent the lentils sticking to the base of the pan
Heat the vegetable oil in a separate pan and add the cumin seeds. When they begin to splutter, add the garlic, ginger and green chilli and sauté until the garlic begins to colour lightly
Add the tumeric, red chilli powder and the chopped onions, and sweat. Add the tomato, cook for 2 minutes, then pour the mixture over the lentils. Season with salt and stir together well
Blitz the lentils until smooth, put back on the heat and add the butter, adjust the seasoning and keep warm
For the coconut rice, cook the basmati rice slightly less than the packet instructions tell you so it retains a little bite. Drain thoroughly
Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan, add the butter and sprinkle in the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the ginger, green chilli and curry leaves. Sauté for 30 seconds, then add the shallot and grated coconut. Reduce the heat and sauté until the shallot is softened but not coloured
Now add the cooked rice, lemon juice and salt. Toss the rice until heated through, then remove from the heat, and stir in the chopped coriander
For the okra, mix together the spices and coriander stalks and toss with the okra. Add the lemon juice and some salt and set aside for 2 minutes. Add the gram flour a little at a time until it lightly coats the okra
Deep-fry in vegetable oil heated to 175°C until golden and crisp, then drain on kitchen paper (if you don’t have a thermometer, check it is hot enough by adding a cube of bread to the oil. It should start to bubble and fry, but not burn, the moment it has been added)
  • vegetable oil
Season the sea bass fillets with sea salt and pepper. Heat the oil on a large, flat griddle (or in a heavy-based frying pan) over a medium heat and add the fish, skin-side down
Fry for about a minute, until seared underneath, then turn and cook the other side. Remove from the pan and leave to rest for 2 minutes
Place a ring mould on each serving plate and fill with the rice. Top with the fish, and arrange the okra over it. Spoon the dhal sauce around the fish, making a moat. Serve immediately

While Vineet Bhatia has borrowed from European traditions to plate up his food, the manner and matter of his dishes are unmistakably those of India, handled with immense sophistication and personal panache.

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