Levengi is used as a stuffing for both poultry and fish. The fish most commonly stuffed with levengi is kutum, a 2-4 kg white fish unique to the Caspian. If you cannot get hold of kutum, use another type of round fish, served whole, such as sea bass, sea bream, carp, grey mullet, red mullet, pike or snapper.
Preparation time: 90 min
Cooking time: 40-45 min
- 1 kutum or whole white fish, gutted and with the fins and scales removed, but the head left on
- 1 large onion
- 200 g/8 oz walnuts
- 100 g/4 oz piece of lavashana (thin rolled sheet of dried plums or cornelian cherries) or 150 g/6 oz of raisins and 50 g/2 oz of barberries
- 50 g/2 oz butter, melted
- salt & pepper
- If using lavashana, soak it in hot water until it dissolves.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F or Gas Mark 4.
- Rinse the fish well, especially inside, and pat dry. Rub with salt.
- Grind the shelled walnuts with a pestle and mortar or in a food processor. Grate the onion and squeeze it in muslin in a sieve to remove excess juice. (If you don't do this, the levengi may be bitter.) If using raisins and barberries, crush them with the pestle and mortar or whizz them through the food processor.
- Mix the onion, walnuts, lavashana paste or ground dried fruit, butter, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
- Spoon the stuffing into the cavity of the fish, packing it firmly inside.
- Sew up the sides of the fish together or fasten them with small skewers.
- Line a baking tin or roasting dish with baking parchment or aluminium foil. Place the fish in the tin. Do not cover with foil or the stuffing will become watery.
- Bake in the medium-hot oven for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Present the fish whole on a serving dish, garnished with onion rings and pomegranate seeds. Balig levengi is usually served with <a href=”http://news.az/articles/cuisine/22596″>rice pilaf </a>and the tangy pomegranate sauce, narsharab.