Clean and cut the fish into medium size pieces. Marinate fish with ginger-garlic paste red chilli powder, turmeric, salt and black pepper. Keep aside for half hour to one hour.
Clean and soak rice for 30 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
Heat oil in a wide shallow pan and fry the marinated fish pieces on low fire till cooked on both sides. The fish should not get crisp as in a fish fry. It should just get slightly browned. Place them on paper towels.
Fry the strained rice in ghee with spices and bay leaf and add 4 cups of boiling water with a pinch of turmeric and salt. Do not cover. Cook till water has been absorbed. Then cover and keep aside for few minutes.
Fry onions, greenchillies in oil in a thick bottomed pan. When it turns brown, add the ginger garlic paste(half of which was used for marinating the fish) and fry till oil separates. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and the dried herbs. Add half tsp of Pathak’s Biriyani paste. When it's fried well add the tomato paste and fry till oil separates. Add salt (just enough since fish already is salty) and 3/4 cup hot water. Let it boil and then place fish pieces in it. Cover and simmer on low fire till all the water has been absorbed and there is just enough gravy.
Layer the rice and fish pieces and spread crispy onion slices on top. Bake with a foil covered in the oven for 30 minutes. ( I do not do baking – too much work – I heat it in microwave).
Serve with Raitha and pappads.
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