by Philip Juma

Iraqi-inspired butterflied sea bream with pomegranate and tamarind glaze

This dish is an interpretation of the national dish of Iraq. Traditionally cooked on the shores of the river Tigris, a butterflied carp is marinated in tamarind and cooked next to an open fire. My take on this classic dish uses sea bream (you could use sea bass, too) and I’ve created a tangy marinade that complements the fish perfectly.  


1 small onion
1 bunch of spring onions
2 cloves of garlic
Olive oil, for frying
½ tsp ginger powder
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp dried lime powder
1 tbsp tomato puree
250ml passatta
2 tbsp tamarind pulp
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
½ lemon, juiced
3 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 large sea bream, butterflied and bone in


Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Begin by finely slicing the onions, spring onions, and garlic. Take a large pan and over a medium heat, sweat the vegetables with a splash of olive oil and generous pinch of salt.

After 8 mins add the spices and cook for another 5 mins, stirring often so the spices do not catch.  Add a splash of water if the pan becomes too dry.

Next add the tomato puree and cook out for a few mins, then add the passatta, tamarind pulp, and pomegranate molasses. Cook for another 5 mins, then set aside to cool.

Once cooled, place in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and add the chopped parsley, plus lemon juice to taste.

Take your fish and rub the marinade on the flesh and skin. You can leave them to marinate overnight for extra flavour. 

Place the fish, skin side down, on a baking tray and cook for 9 mins. Once out of the oven, finish with a blow torch if you have one to give that charred, smoky flavour of the original masgouf cooked by the fire.

Recipe: Philip Juma
Image: John Holdship