Bream with sag aloo, onion bhajis and tomato chilli jam

Paul Merrett replaces mango chutney with a sweet and spicy tomato jam in this Indian-inspired feast
By Paul Merrett
Bream with sag aloo, onion bhajis and tomato chilli jam
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Effort: medium


For the tomato chilli jam

  • 750 g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 225 ml water
  • 150 ml white wine vinegar
  • 375 g caster sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes

For the sag aloo

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely crushed
  • 5 cm root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp white mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 3-4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 250 g baby spinach

For the onion bhajis

  • 2 onions, very finely sliced
  • pinch salt
  • 4 tsp medium curry powder
  • 1 tbsp ground rice flour
  • 170 g gram flour, also called chickpea flour
  • 1 tbsp shredded, fresh coriander
  • vegetable oil, for deep frying

For the bream

  • drizzle olive oil
  • 4-6 bream, fillets


1. For the tomato chilli jam: tip all of the ingredients into a large non-metallic pan. Bring to a simmer over a low-medium heat.

2. Cook the jam, stirring occasionally, for about an hour, or until it reaches a thick, jammy consistency. Take care not to let it burn.

3. Set aside to cool then transfer to a clean jar and store in the fridge until needed.

4. For the sag aloo: heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, stir in the onion, garlic and ginger and fry for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

5. Stir in the spices and fry for 1 minute, then stir in the potatoes. Pour over enough water to almost cover the potatoes and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked and just beginning to break up, and the water has evaporated.

6. Tip in the spinach and stir until just wilted. Keep warm.

7. For the onion bhajis: tip the onions into a bowl with a pinch of salt. Rub the salt and onions firmly between your finger, or pound with a wooden spoon, until the onions are slightly softened and releasing some of their juices.

8. Rub the curry powder into the onions then stir in the rice flour and a splash of water, if necessary, to bind the mixture together.

9. Gradually mix in enough of the chickpea flour to coat the onions with a thick batter (you may not need to use all the chickpea flour), adding a splash of water if necessary. Stir in the shredded coriander.

10. Take spoonfuls of the bhaji mixture and shape into patties.

11. Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer or deep-sided saucepan until hot then fry the bhajis for 4-5 minutes or until crisp and golden-brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Set aside and keep warm.

12. For the bream: heat a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat. Rub a drizzle of oil into the skin of each bream fillet then place in the hot pan, skin-side down.

13. Cook the fish, without moving it around in the pan, for 3-4 minutes, or until the skin is crisp and the flesh is turning opaque. Turn the fillets over and cook for a further 1-2 minutes, or until just cooked through.

14. To serve, divide the aloo gobi between 4 serving plates then top each with a bream fillet, skin-side up. Arrange a bhaji on top of the bream and top with a spoonful of the tomato and chilli jam. Serve.

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