First make the spice mix. Put all the ingredients in a small frying pan and lightly toast over a low heat, until they turn a shade darker and release their aromas. Coarsely grind in a mortar and pestle.
Place the fish in a flat roasting tray. Mix together all the ingredients for the first marinade. Rub over the fish and cover with cling film. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Mix together all the ingredients for the second marinade in a small mixing bowl, folding in the cream at the end. Cover and refrigerate.
Now to make the sauce. Blitz the tomatoes with a small amount of water in a blender to a smooth paste. Pass through a fine sieve to remove any seeds. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over a medium-high heat. Add the bay leaf, ginger and garlic and fry for a minute or so, then add the tomatoes, the cumin, fennel, chilli powder and lemon grass. Bring to the boil, then simmer for five to eight minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the sauce from sticking. Now add the coconut milk and continue to simmer until the sauce becomes glossy, then adjust for salt and cook for a minute or so. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
Remove the fish and the bowl of the second marinade from the fridge and bring to room temperature. Pour the second marinade over the fish and sprinkle the spice mix on top. Place in the hot oven and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the fish begins to flake. Reheat the tomato sauce over a medium heat and discard the lemon grass. Place the fish on a serving dish and drizzle the sauce around.
Recipe courtesy of Reza’s Indian Spice by Reza Mahammad, published by Quadrille (£17.99, hardback). Photos © Martin Poole.