In this dish the yoghurt is stabilized so that it won’t curdle and then combined with saffron and cream. It forms a lovely base in which to poach the fennel and fish. Serve with new potatoes and a green vegetable.
Cut the stalks and ends off the fennel bulbs and discard any marked outer pieces. Cut the bulbs lengthways into 6-8 pieces each. Peel the onion and slice across into rings.
Pour the yoghurt into a fairly large flameproof casserole. Mix the cornflour with the milk in a cup until smooth and then mix into the yoghurt. Put the casserole over a medium heat and bring to bubbling, stirring all the time in one direction only. Bubble, still stirring, for about 2 minutes. Then add the saffron, stir in the cream, cayenne pepper and some salt and put in the sliced fennel and onion. Bring to bubbling again, cover the pan and simmer gently over the lowest possible heat for about 30 minutes, stirring now and then, until the fennel and onion are very soft.
Meanwhile, slice the fish into large chunks. When the vegetables are soft, add the fish, cover again and continue barely simmering for 10-15 minutes, just until the fish is cooked through. Stir in some chopped fennel leaves or chives and serve at once.
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.