6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

a 3 pound whole red snapper, cleaned and scaled

½ cup lemon juice (from about 2 lemons), plus one lemon cut into wedges

48 fresh or frozen curry leaves (optional)

6 whole cloves

5 green cardamom pods

3 dried red chilies (optional)

3 tablespoons coriander seeds

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

½ teaspoon whole peppercorns

2 tablespoons water

6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

1 jalapeno (cored and seeded if you prefer a milder flavor) roughly chopped

1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro

¼ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground mace

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice


1.   Grease a baking dish large enough to hold the fish comfortably with 2 tablespoons of oil.  Place the snapper on a work surface and cut three diagonal slashes in the fish, holding a paring or boning knife nearly parallel to the fish so the gash opens like a flap.  Sprinkle the fish with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.  Flip the fish over and repeat on the other side.  Set aside.

2.  Heat the curry leaves (if using), cloves, cardamom pods, chiles (if using), coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and peppercorns in a medium skillet over medium high heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat to medium and toast until the cumin seeds are medium brown in color and the mustard seeds begin to pop, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.  Transfer the spices to a spice grinder, coffee mill or small food processor and grind until fine.

3.  Transfer the spice blend to a food processor.  Add 4 tablespoons of the oil, the water, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, mint, salt, ginger, mace, allspice and remaining lemon juice.  Pulse until it becomes a rough paste.  Apply the spice paste to each side of the fish and inside the cavity, making sure to get the paste into the gashes.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

4.  Preheat the oven to 400*.  Roast the fish for 15 minutes, flip the fish over and roast for another 13 minutes.  Turn the broiler to high.  Broil the fish for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the herb paste sizzles on top.  Serve with lemon wedges.

from Suvir Saran, American Masala

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