My ajji used to make the most amazing shengachi aamti, a tangy sweet-sour dal with drumstick that is typical to the Sawantwadi Ratnagiri region. It was so delicately flavoured that later I wanted to incorporate it in my menu. I thought it would work very well with sea bass, which is a delicate fish. The bok choy gave it another textural element and the pickled radish added a pop of flavour.

  • Serves


  • Cook Time


    Plus 4 hours for pickling radish. You can omit it if you’d like.


For Sea Bass

  • 4 sea bass fillets, around 120 gm each with skin on
  • 20 gm butter
  • 20 ml olive oil
  • 20 ml lemon/lime juice
  • Salt and pepper

For Shenganchi Aamti

  • 1 cup tur dal
  • ¾ cup onion, chopped
  • ¾ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup tamarind, soaked in water for 1 hour
  • 1 shenga (drumstick), deveined and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 whole green chilli
  • Salt to taste

For Bok Choy

  • 8 bok choy, cored and blanched
  • 15 gm garlic, chopped
  • 15 ml clarified butter or olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

For Pickled White Radish

  • 100 gm white radish, julienned
  • 25 gm sugar
  • 5 gm salt
  • 5 gm coriander seed
  • 150 ml water
  • 50 ml white wine vinegar
  • 6-8 black peppercorns
  • 1 small cinnamon stick

For Garnish

  • 1 cup scallion greens
  • ½ cup fresh coriander leaves


For Shenganchi Aamti

  1. Bring tur dal to a boil in 2-3 cups of water or till a frothy scum forms on surface. Spoon off the scum and add chopped onions. Continue to cook.
  2. Toss in whole chilli, salt to taste and continue to cook.
  3. When dal is soft and mushy, add drumstick pieces and continue cooking.
  4. Meanwhile, macerate tamarind in its water and pass through a sieve.
  5. When drumsticks soften, drop in the tamarind pulp and then coconut milk. Continue to simmer for 5 more minutes. Hold warm till service.

For Pickled Radish

  1. Stuff julienned white radish into a sterilised glass jar.
  2. Toss the remaining ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. 
  3. Pour this hot pickling liquid over the julienned white radish and seal the jar. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least four hours before using.

For Bok Choy

  1. Heat butter or olive oil in a pan and sauté garlic till it turns golden brown.
  2. Cut the blanched bok choy heads down the middle and sauté till they almost dry out and the leaves just start to char.
  3. Squeeze the juice of a lemon on the greens and season with salt and pepper. Hold warm.

For Sea Bass

  1. Lightly score the skin of sea bass fillets, making sure not to cut too deeply into the flesh. Pat dry with a paper towel and rub a little salt, pepper and lemon juice on flesh side. Keep skin side dry.
  2. Heat some oil in a nonstick frying pan and sauté the fillets, skin side down, on low heat. When the edges of the flesh above the skin start turning white, the fish is almost cooked.
  3. Drop in butter and a sprig of thyme and with a tablespoon, keep basting the flesh-side of the fish. The skin should get crispy.
  4. Remove from heat, flip the fillet in the pan, and hold while you start plating.

To Serve

  1. Fold four bok choy halves over on themselves in the centre of a plate and place sea bass on top. 
  2. Garnish with a salad of pickled radish, coriander leaves and scallion greens tossed in a bit of the pickling liquid. Spoon the shenganchi aamti sauce around the fish.
Rahul Akerkar

Rahul Akerkar

Rahul Akerkar, the chef-founder of Qualia in Mumbai, was Scroll Food’s Chef of the Month for June. He started his culinary journey 35 years ago in the US, returning to India in 1989. Since then, he has been busy changing the way we eat. Known for setting industry trends with his creative, ingredient-driven cuisine, and warm attentive hospitality, Rahul’s award-winning restaurants secured his position as one of India’s first successful, chef-restaurateurs. In his career, he has won many accolades – he was featured in Asiaweek’s Survey of “Kitchen Gods” in 2001 and was 28 on San Pellegrino’s List of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013. More recently, he won Chef of The Year at the Times Food Awards 2016, Mumbai. He has been guest chef in several kitchens around the world, authored numerous articles, and frequently consults to the food and hospitality industry.

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