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More Nigella recipes

Kerala Fish Curry

by . Featured in NIGELLA SUMMER
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Introduction

This tamarind-tangy curry makes for a perfect dinner on a hot night; light enough not to knock you out, but spiced enough to prompt a heat-drowsy appetite. And it is such gloriously easy food to make.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

This tamarind-tangy curry makes for a perfect dinner on a hot night; light enough not to knock you out, but spiced enough to prompt a heat-drowsy appetite. And it is such gloriously easy food to make.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Keralan Fish Curry
Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Ingredients

Serves: 4-6

Metric Cups
  • 1¼ kilograms firm white fish
  • salt
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions (halved and cut into fine half moons)
  • 2 long red chillies
  • 4 centimetres piece of fresh root ginger
  • 1 pinch of ground cumin
  • 1 x 400 millilitres tin coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind (or 2 tablespoons concentrated)
  • 1 tablespoon fish stock concentrate
  • 2¾ pounds firm white fish
  • salt
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions (halved and cut into fine half moons)
  • 2 long red chiles
  • 1 inch piece of fresh gingerroot
  • 1 pinch of ground cumin
  • 14 fluid ounces tin coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind (or 2 tablespoons concentrated)
  • 1 tablespoon fish broth concentrate

Method

  1. Cut the fish into bite-sized chunks, put them into a large bowl, and rub with a little salt and 1 teaspoon turmeric. Heat the oil in a large, shallow pan and peel and tip in your fine half-moons of onion; sprinkle them with a little salt to stop them browning and then cook, stirring, until they've softened; this should take scarcely 5 minutes.
  2. Cut the whole, unseeded chillies into thin slices across (although if you really don't want this at all hot, you can deseed and then just chop them) and then toss them into the pan of softened onions. Peel the ginger and slice it, then cut the slices into straw-like strips and add them too, along with the remaining teaspoon of turmeric and the cumin. Fry them with the onions for a few minutes.
  3. Pour the tin of coconut milk into a measuring jug and add a tablespoon of tamarind paste and the fish stock concentrate, using boiling water from the kettle to bring the liquid up to the litre mark. Pour it into the pan, stirring it in to make the delicate curry sauce. Taste and add more tamarind paste if you want to. And actually you can do all this hours in advance if this helps.
  4. When you are absolutely ready to eat, add the fish to the hot sauce and heat for a couple of minute until it's cooked through but still tender.
  1. Cut the fish into bite-sized chunks, put them into a large bowl, and rub with a little salt and 1 teaspoon turmeric. Heat the oil in a large, shallow pan and peel and tip in your fine half-moons of onion; sprinkle them with a little salt to stop them browning and then cook, stirring, until they've softened; this should take scarcely 5 minutes.
  2. Cut the whole, unseeded chillies into thin slices across (although if you really don't want this at all hot, you can deseed and then just chop them) and then toss them into the pan of softened onions. Peel the ginger and slice it, then cut the slices into straw-like strips and add them too, along with the remaining teaspoon of turmeric and the cumin. Fry them with the onions for a few minutes.
  3. Pour the tin of coconut milk into a measuring jug and add a tablespoon of tamarind paste and the fish broth concentrate, using boiling water from the kettle to bring the liquid up to the litre mark. Pour it into the pan, stirring it in to make the delicate curry sauce. Taste and add more tamarind paste if you want to. And actually you can do all this hours in advance if this helps.
  4. When you are absolutely ready to eat, add the fish to the hot sauce and heat for a couple of minute until it's cooked through but still tender.

Additional Information

For gluten free make sure the fish stock concentrate is gluten free.

For gluten free make sure the fish stock concentrate is gluten free.

Tell us what you think

What 16 Others have said

  • This recipe is so good, it's almost unreal! The sauce is a perfect balance of spicy, savory, and sour. The lemon rice (suggested with this dish in the book) adds just the right touch and really makes it sing. I have made this with halibut and with prawns. Both are divine. Follow it with something cool or exotic (Grasshopper Pie, Meringue Gelato Cake, Apricot and Almond Cake, or Forgotten Cookies) and you have the perfect evening with friends!

    Posted by joshv41680 on 21st February 2020
  • I came across this recipe a few months ago and make it regularly now as it is easy and fabulous. I know my fishmonger so feel very comfortable using the lowly tilapia here for its lightness and ability to hold its shape. I once bought the tilapia from another source and didn't do my due diligence on freshness and had to throw the curry out as it really does depend on absolutely fresh fish. Be bossy at the fish counter and this curry will pay you back! I like the ideas below about using coconut oil and kodampuli so will try those. I happen to have kasoori methi (fenugreek leaves) so sprinkle some on at the very end. Thanks for this great recipe!

    Posted by Rossbeigh on 22nd August 2019
  • Had it on a warm sunny evening and it was fabulous! Bought the book this afternoon and this was the first recipe we tried. Had it with the lemon rice as suggested in the book - all really tasty. Can’t wait to try more of the recipes.

    Posted by Askl3 on 7th July 2019
  • Delicious curry. I was making for 3 people so I halved the recipe and used coconut cream instead of half a tin coconut milk. Added veg so we wouldn't get scurvy but it was clean bowls all round. Tasty and super easy

    Posted by leggyloulou on 3rd November 2017
  • A winner of a curry! Really easy to make, and the flavour of the tamarind is beautiful with the fish. I have made it with hake and monkfish successfully.

    Posted by lmoyniha on 5th October 2017
  • A very tasty fish curry soup. However, it was a bit too spicy so next time I will use less chillies. I use fresh cod fillet and added fresh cilantro/coriander at the end. I know the recipe asked for 2 3/4 lb fish but I only had 2 lbs which in the end I found to be more than enough. Also, if you want this dish to be less soupy and more thick, I would fill cup that has the coconut milk/tamarind/fish stock to maybe equal 2 cups instead of 1 litre. 1 litre is about 4 1/4 cups.

    Posted by reginec on 20th October 2016
  • hot diggety dog!! I have barely put down my spoon and feel compelled to share the ecstasy I am in right now having just eaten this phenomenal curry!! Wow. Delightful. Delicious. Scrummy! Tamarind is heavenly. I took the advice of another commenter and used coconut oil as opposed to veg oil - really worked well. I also didn't have enough fish (smoked haddock) so topped up with some wild mushrooms pre-fried with garlic (added at the same time as the fish). Textures complemented each other nicely I thought (if I do say so myself). This one is coming out at the next soiree no doubt xx

    Posted by Carmela-Miranda on 3rd June 2016
  • This is one of my go to meals! I have tried with Monk Fish and Prawns and they worked a treat!

    Posted by cassie cat on 28th August 2014
  • Tried this today using prawns. Wonderful!

    Posted by amalif on 24th August 2014
  • For better taste...adding coconut oil instead of the vegetable oil and using garcinia gummi gutta (Kerala Kudampuli) instead of Tamarind.

    Posted by Tomybluelagoon on 9th August 2014
  • I have just made this curry. It is sublime. I really recommend it, and it is so easy to prepare in advance. I added some coriander seeds and some fresh coriander at the end.

    Posted by piastro on 8th August 2014
  • Would just like to say what a wonderful dish, cooked this last night for my family. My young boys who two of them don't really like fish loved it, the misses said the best fish curry she has ever had. Big thank you Nigella.

    Posted by k.kelly on 30th March 2013
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