5 tablespoons olive oil
2 small cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leafed parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
1kg monkfish, conger eel, hake or another white-fleshed fish, cut crosswise into 5cm/2-inch steaks
200g (scant 1½ cups) seedless raisins
15g (1 tablespoon) butter
1kg red or yellow onions, cut into rings, rings separated
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt and pepper

This is a sublime sweet-and-savoury combination of spiced fish cooked atop caramelised onions. Monkfish and conger eel are excellent choices to use for this dish, although any bone-in white fish will work. If using conger, remove the skin before adding (pouring boiling water over the conger helps in this task). Conger takes a bit longer to cook, so allow 30–45 minutes. While the tfaya topping can be prepared separately and served atop the fish, cooking the fish and the tfaya in the same pan yields more flavourful results.


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1.Put 1 tablespoon of the oil, the garlic, parsley, coriander, ½ teaspoon of the ginger and half of the saffron into a large bowl and mix to combine, then season with salt and pepper.
2.Add the fish, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
3.Meanwhile, put the raisins into a small bowl, cover with lukewarm water and leave to soak for 10 minutes; drain.
4.Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of the oil, the butter, onions, raisins, the remaining ½ teaspoon of ginger and remaining half of the saffron to a large tagine (or use a heavy, shallow flameproof casserole dish or Dutch oven) over a medium-high heat.
5.Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and begin to brown, 30–45 minutes.
6.Stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Arrange the fish in a single layer on top of the onions.
7.Cover the tagine with a lid and cook until the onions are caramelised and the fish cooked through, 20–40 minutes, depending on the fish, carefully turning the fish once after a couple of minutes.
8.Add a touch of water if needed or remove the lid to evaporate. Serve.

This is an edited extract
from The North African
Cookbook by Jeff
Koehler, photography
by Simon Bajada,
published by Phaidon,