Crispy Fried Fish with Turmeric and Herbs

Crispy fried fish, or mahi sorkh kardeh
Image by Danielle Atkins

Mahi sorkh kardeh, Farsi for crispy fried fish, is prepared with earthy turmeric and bold herbs for a dish brimming with texture and flavors. The crunchy exterior surrounding the flaky fish is enhanced by the complex flavors of robust garlic, delicate parsley, sturdy leeks, and tart lime. Enjoy the sound of the crispy fried fish sizzling in the pan and smell the herbs curling around the corners of your kitchen.

This is a meal traditionally served during Nowruz, the Iranian or Persian new year celebrated on the first day of spring. It’s meant to be savored while you take in the sunlight. This meal of crispy fried fish is a great addition to the table for anyone looking for something extra special. Cookbook and creator Louisa Shafia provides a recipe for sabzi herb mix below, but you can also find it at Kurdish stores or at her online store,

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Serves 4

    For the sabzi herb mix:
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried leeks
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon dried spinach
  • Pinch of dried fenugreek
  • For the fish:
  • 2 pounds fish fillets, (choose a variety that’s good for frying like cod or halibut, not too thick)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons white rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons sabzi herb mix
  • ¼ cup olive oil 2 limes, cut into wedges, for serving
  • Handful of fresh green herbs like mint, cilantro, parsley, dill, or basil, coarsely chopped, for serving
  • Yogurt with Shallots for serving (recipe follows)
  • Yogurt with Shallots
  • 2 cups thick Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 shallot, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dried mint
  1. Make the sabzi herb mix: Combine all herbs together in a bowl and set aside. 
  2. Make the fish: Rinse fish under cold water and pat dry. Season generously with salt and pepper and rub with garlic. 
  3. In a bowl, whisk together flours, cornstarch, turmeric, and sabzi herb mix. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and whisk together. Coat fish in flour mixture, shaking off excess, and set aside on a plate. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. 
  4. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, place a few pieces of fish at a time in pan and fry for 3 to 4 minutes until brown. Turn and repeat on other side. Remove with tongs and drain on paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining fish. 
  5. Serve with lime wedges, fresh herbs, and Yogurt with Shallots. 

Yogurt with Shallots Mast-o Musir

MAKES 2 CUPS (Plan to make this condiment a day or two before serving so the flavors can mellow.) 

  1. Combine yogurt and shallot in a bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. Before serving, taste and season with salt and pepper if needed, and garnish with dried mint
  • Recipes adapted from
    The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia, copyright (c) 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random house, Inc.
  • Contributing City

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