Heat 3 1/2 tablespoons mustard oil in a small nonstick pan over a medium heat until smoking. Remove the pan from the heat, and set aside for 20 to 30 seconds.
Add the cardamom pods, cloves, bay leaves
, and panch phoran, and fry over a low heat, stirring well, until the mixture starts to darken in color.
Add the onion
, and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened. Add the green chiles, ginger paste, and garlic paste, and continue to cook, stirring well, for another minute.
Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, chile powder
, if using, and salt, to taste, and stir well to combine, and then add the water. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer
the mixture for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the volume of liquid has reduced. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a separate frying pan
over a high heat, add the sea bream pieces, and fry for 1 to 2 minutes, turning once, until the fish pieces are golden brown on all sides. Add the fish to the spice mixture, adding more water as necessary to thin the sauce
. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately with basmati rice.