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Kerala Fish Curry - A Quick, Easy & Oh So Tasty Recipe

Updated on March 15, 2014

Kerala Fish Curry

Whilst this fish curry was originally taught to me in Kerala, it has the influence of the three Southern Indian states of Kerala, Goa and Tamil Nadu. I first cooked the Kerala fish curry using Kingfish, but, here in the UK, it can be difficult to get that, though I have found that the curry works just as well with cod and monkfish, and indeed any firmish white fish.

If you give this curry a try you won't be disappointed! The Kerala fish curry, using coconut milk as a base for the sauce, is really quick and easy to make and it tastes amazing too!

All photos on this page are from my own album and should not be reproduced without permission


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Ingredients Your Will Need To Make The Kerala Fish Curry

Enough for 2 servings of fish curry

2 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1-2 dried red chillies

olive oil

1 onion halved and sliced

piece ginger grated

2 garlic cloves crushed

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 can coconut milk

1/2 tsp tamarind paste

2 chillies sliced

fish (about 400g)

fish sauce

lime juice and zest

A few curry leaves

Is The Food In Kerala Similar To That In The Rest Of India?

I love India, and, the southern states on the west coast of India,Goa, Kerela and the southern most tip of Tamil Nadu are the places where I have spent the most time in this beautiful and beguiling country. To the uninitiated it my be that an "Indian Curry is an Indian Curry" but an Aloo Gobi (potato & cauliflower) from the Punjab is as different from a Samar Codi (prawn curry) from Goa as fish & chips is from a roast beef dinner!

Perhaps the thing that typifies food from these southern states of India is seafood. All of them are coastal and therefore much of their food naturally comes from the sea.

The food of Goa is strongly influenced by 400 years of Portuguese colonialism. Whilst fish is a staple, much pork is still eaten due to a strong Christian population. Vindaloo (coming from the Portuguese meaning wine vinegar & garlic) was origunally a pork dish but is now also made with fish. Most commonly eaten fish are Pomfret, Kingfish, crabs, lobster and prawns.

Coconuts grow in abundance in Kerela and consequently are widely used in cooking. As are the hot spices of chili, black pepper, cardamon, cloves, ginger, tamarind and cinnamon which are in plentiful supply. Promfret, kingfish, sardine, mackerel & tuna are all commonly found in coastal waters. White fish is usually used in Kerela Fish Curry.

Tamil Nadu is famous for its hospitality and fish is an integral part of the cuisine - which is traditionally eaten from banana leaves. Like Kerela, much use is made of the abundant coconuts and spices including cardamon, cumin, clove and nutmeg.

Kachi's Kitchen: Family Favorites from Kerala and Tamil Nadu
Kachi's Kitchen: Family Favorites from Kerala and Tamil Nadu

"The cuisines of Kerala and Tamil Nadu are among the finest in all of India. The artful blend of aromatic spices and healthy ingredients makes Kachi's Kitchen a book that must be in every family's library. With flavorful, mouthwatering recipes passed down through generations, this book brings authentic recipes, unique and traditional, to your home."

Amazon UK customers please follow the link below for:

Kachi's Kitchen: Family Favorites from Kerala and Tamil Nadu


How To Make The Kerala Fish Curry

First of all toast the seeds and dried chillies in a dry frying pan, then grind to a powder using a pestle and mortar. A good quality, heavy pestle and mortar works best when grinding spices. I have had my pestle and mortar for ages now, you can get a similar quality granite pestle and mortar by Jamie Oliver at either Amazon UK or

Frying the onions for the Kerala fish curry

Heat the oil in a non stick saucepan and cook the sliced onion, with a good pinch of salt, until soft and golden in colour.

Add the spices to the onions to make the base for the fish curry

Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, curry leaves and ground spices to the cooked onions. Stir to combine and fry for a further minute.

Coconut milk, tamarind paste and chillies complete the sauce for the Keralan fish curry

Now add the coconut milk, tamarind paste and sliced chillies and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the grated zest of a lime and the juice of half a lime and stir. If you prefer you can now turn off the heat and leave the sauce until you are ready to cook the curry.

Prepare the fish for the curry

Prepare your fish, I rarely use an exact amount, I just guess the amount I would need for 2 good portions of curry, but as a guide I would suggest about 400g... use more, or less, if you like. This time I used a mixture of monkfish and prawns but you can use any firm white fish that you like, use the fish on its own or mix together with a few prawns as I have done. Cut the fish into nice bite sized chunks and make sure that the prawns are deveined..

Enjoy a great tasting Kerala fish curry!

When you are ready to make the fish curry bring the sauce back up to simmering point and add the fish. Simmer the fish in the sauce for about 4 to 5 minutes (depending on the size of the chunks). Remove from the heat and sprinkle with the juice from the other half of the lime.

Serve immediately with basmati rice and nan bread.

For More Fantastic Keralan And Southern Indian Recipes

Curried Favors: Family Recipes from South India
Curried Favors: Family Recipes from South India

Amazon UK customers please follow the link below for:

Curried Favors



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    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Just to let you know that I chose this to be curry of the day and promoted it on the Spot On UK social media. I hope it helps others find this tasty dish!

    • SteenBiilmann LM profile image

      SteenBiilmann LM 4 years ago

      Ummmm curry - Lovely lens - and Kerala is one of the most beautiful places in India! - thanks for posting:-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Mind if I stop by for dinner? lol :)

      That looks divine. Mouth watering yummy! :)

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 5 years ago from Virginia

      This looks interesting. I enjoy so many international foods. Thanks for the delicious sounding lense.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great job on the photos and read!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Great work here - looks pretty tasty!