Kerala style Fish curry

May 16, 2015

There is little I enjoy more than shaking dinner party guests out of their comfort zone, laying on a meal of popular favourites, with something that pushes their boundaries a little. This Kerala style Fish Curry does just that with a heady combination of aromatic curry leaves, sharp chilli and tangy tamarind, it’s one of those dishes that you end up licking off an empty plate with your finger. The last time I served this as part of a dinner menu, the guest literally couldn’t speak after the meal.

Fancy a Food Coma? Feast on this.

Kerala Fish Curry


Feeds 7-8:

  • 6 small onions (I used shallots, about 500gm)
  • 3 tsp garlic ginger paste
  • 2 inches cinnamon stick
  • 30 curry leaves (I love, love, love curry leaves)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 3 x 400 ml tins coconut milk (one with a high coconut content 60%+)
  • 1kg monkfish tails, skinned and boned(you can also use sardines or mackerel)
  • Half tsp Kasoori Methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt to taste


Peel and roughly chop the onions. Soak the fenugreek leaves in a tablespoon of hot water. In a large wok or saucepan, bring the oil to heat on high. When it sizzles around a hot spoon, toss in the cinnamon stick, chopped onions and ginger garlic paste and sauté for 10 minutes until the onions are soft and golden.

Next, add the curry leaves, turmeric and chilli and sauté for another five minutes.

Then stir in the coconut milk, tamarind paste and fenugreek leaves (along with the water they are soaking in) and cook for about 10 minutes on a medium to low heat.

Meanwhile, cut the monkfish into large bite-sized cubes. When the time is up on the curry, drop the pieces in, cover and simmer for a couple of minutes until the fish turns opaque white and oil floats to the surface of the curry. Serve Kerala style Fish Curry immediately with steaming hot basmati rice.

You can make the sauce well in advance, freeze it for a month or store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to day days, dropping the monkfish in just before you serve it.



8 Responses to “Kerala style Fish curry”

  1. pravin Says:

    May 17th, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    mrs malika basu i must say that this is an amazing recipe of yours..although photo illustrations is a bit low..But don’t worry you can contact this person who can provide your the right photos you need for your blog..his name is Deepak and Here’s his number- +918976630338. meanwhile why don’t you sell your delicious recipe’s on our site?

  2. Reethi Harish Says:

    April 28th, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Hi Mallika,

    I am a Keralite and I am passionate about cooking as well.
    I just found your website and was going through your recipes for something different and saw this one.
    I cook fish curries often and would like to recommend fenugreek seeds instead of kasuri methi leaves as we do not use kasuri methi in fish curries in Kerala.
    We make hell of a lot different fish curries in Kerala and use mostly ‘Kudam Puli’ (also know as Malabar tamarind) in our fish curries. Our fish curries will taste awesome if you cook in a Clay pot. Try once and you will fee the difference. Good luck.

  3. Mallika Says:

    April 6th, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    It really was! Looking forward to your feedback

  4. My Yellow Plate Says:

    April 5th, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Bookmarked! That looks so so scrumptious. It must have been a treat with rice.

  5. Mallika Says:

    May 17th, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    Hi Sangeetha, mmm matta rice!! I’ve npt attempted it at home yet, I feel a project coming on :-)

    Hi Ann – totally freezable! Please do try it. xx

  6. sangeetha menon Says:

    May 17th, 2015 at 11:33 am

    fish curry, spicy and tangy is the best combination for rice. I would prefer Kerala red rice to go with the recipe.

  7. ann Says:

    May 17th, 2015 at 1:33 am

    Sorry, just read the bit about freezing the sauce…thank you!

  8. ann Says:

    May 17th, 2015 at 1:31 am

    Wow sounds good and is now on my list of must cook! I have curry leaves by the ton growing outside but will have to source the fenugreek leaves as only have roasted fenugreek seeds. Would this dish be ok to freeze? Maybe not a good idea with coconut milk?

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