Marinate the fish pieces with salt, a pinch of turmeric powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder, 1 tbsp lemon juice; keep aside for 10 to 15 minutes
In the mean time, boil the potatoes, till it becomes a bit tender. Keep aside.
Next heat 2 tbsp of ghee and fry the bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, anise seed.
Once fragrant, add rice and fry with all the spices for a minute.
Add salt and water and boil till the rice is 90% cooked.
In the mean time, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a wide bottomed pan and fry the fish pieces to a light golden brown colour on both the sides. Keep aside.
Next fry half of the cut onion to a golden brown colour in 1 tbsp of oil, keep aside.
In the same pan, heat one more tbsp of oil, add the rest of the onion and fry till translucent, next add the half boiled potatoes, salt and turmeric powder, sprinkle a little water and let cook covered till the potatoes are fully done.
Take out from the heat, keep aside.
Grease a wide flat bottomed, non stick skillet with ghee.
Divide the rice into two halves.
Add one half of the rice to the pan and spread out with a ladle to make a bed.
Sprinkle sugar, mace powder and nutmeg powder on the rice bed.
In a spoonful of warm milk, add two pinches of saffron and drizzle half of it on the rice.
Add half of the fried potatoes with onion and reserve the rest for the next step.
Next add the remaining rice on top and spread out in all directions to make a bed.
Pour a cup of milk on the rice.
Drizzle the rest of the saffron milk, add the remaining fried potato, fried onion, and the fish pieces.
Lastly add a tbsp of kewra water.
Let cook covered on low heat for 12 to 15 minutes.
Sprinkle a tbsp of lemon juice before removing from heat.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with raita and papad.
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Subbalakshmi Renganathan is an expert in traditional Tamil cooking who inspires everyone through her simple, innovative blog.