Kerala fish curry with coconut milk

Recipe adapted from here

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King fish/ seer fish- 500 gms cleaned and cut into small curry pieces. Its ok if they are slightly larger steak pieces as well.

Coconut oil- 2tbsp (use any refined oil, but coconut oil makes a world of a difference)

Shallots- 10 to 12, peeled and halved

Ginger- 1 inch piece, peeled

Garlic- 6 to 7 medium size pods, peeled

Green chilli- 1, add more if you would like the curry to be spicy

Curry leaves- 1 sprig

Turmeric powder- 1 tsp

Coriander powder- 1 tbsp

Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 tbsp

Fenugreek powder- a little less than 1/2 tsp

Tomato- 1 medium, finely chopped

Malabar tamarind (kudampuli)- 3 medium

Thinned out coconut milk- 2 cups (refer notes)

Thick coconut milk- 1/2 cup

To temper

Coconut oil- 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp

Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp

Curry leaves- 1 sprig

Shallots- 2 tbsp

Turmeric powder- a generous pinch (optional, but imparts a nice flavour)


Soak the tamarind pieces in 1/2 cup warm water.

Coarsely grind together the shallots, garlic, ginger and green chilli or crush them all together using a pestle and mortar. Dont make it into a paste.

Heat oil in a kadai and throw in the ground shallot mix along with a curry leaf sprig.

Cook on medium heat till they dont smell raw anymore and the onions have caramelised slightly. They dont need to brown.

Add the turmeric, coriander, kashmiri chilli and fenugreek powder. Add a dash of water and cook for about a minute or so.

Throw in the diced tomato and cook till they turn mushy and the oil begins to surface around the sides.

Pour in the tamarind along with its water, the thinned out coconut milk, enough salt, and bring to a boil, covered.

Once it boils, add the fish slices, give a gentle mix and cover and continue cooking for about 15 minutes or till they are cooked through.

Open lid and add the thick coconut milk. Swirl the pan. Dont mix with a ladle as the fish slices may break. 

Boil for a few minutes on medium heat and then turn off the heat. Dont heat the curry a lot after you’ve added the thick coconut milk, as it could change the taste of the curry, or split.

In another small pan, heat the coconut oil to temper/

Add mustard seeds, let it crackle, followed by cumin seeds and curry leaves.

Stir for a few seconds and add the shallots and turmeric powder. Saute till they turn slightly brown.

Immediately pour over the fish curry. Swirl the pan, and keep covered till ready to eat.

Best had with steamed rice.


Notes: If using coconut milk from a can or coconut cream, remove 1/2 cup of thick milk/cream and to the rest add enough water to make it 2 cups. Stir well and then add to the curry. This is the thin coconut milk. The 1/2 cup kept aside is to be used at the end.

I gently nudge the tamarind between my fingers before pouring it into the curry so that the juices get released a bit. I also pass this through a sieve to catch any mud or sediment from the tamarind.

I also remove 2 of the tamarind pieces from the curry after its done, as i find they end up being too sour if left in there. You can of course leave them in there if you prefer it that way.

Curry is not spicy, add green chilli accordingly.

The curry can be left at room temperature for a day or so. Reheat on low heat before using.

Needless to say, the curry tastes best the next day or even the day after.

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