Recipe: Kerala Fish Curry with Coconut Milk

Here’s another easy and impressive recipe from the coconutty Kerala coast of SW India to add to your repertoire of authentic Indian dishes.

Use a firm white fish such as cod; it’s also delicious made with large shrimp, or a combination of the two.

Once you’re familiar with Indian spices, you’ll never buy supermarket ‘curry powder’ again. I can’t think of a single authentic Indian dish that has ready mixed curry powder as an ingredient. The only exception (and I’m not convinced of it’s total authenticity as it’s been Anglicized) is that wonderful breakfast/brunch dish, Kedgeree.

On the other hand, fresh curry leaves are ubiquitous in Kerala cuisine so you’ll need to find a good source because their aromatic nuttiness is essential here. Most cities have at least one good Asian supermarket but failing that, there’s always A1-SpiceWorld for your mail-order spices.

You can make this ahead right up to the part before you add the fish, then it’s another 10-12 minutes after that. Serve it with plain basmati rice or try this spiced aromatic rice dish  – and perhaps some saag (spinach with fresh ginger) served on the side.

You’ll need a wide, fairly deep sauté pan with a lid.

Blog, stage one Kerala Fish Curry with Coconut milk 021 FISH CURRY with COCONUT MILK

(Serves 6)


4 tablespoons of vegetable oil (not olive oil)

2 cups (480ml measure) of thinly sliced white onion

2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

6 thin slices of peeled ginger-root

1 fresh green chili (Serrano or Thai), seeded and thinly sliced

10-12 fresh curry leaves

For the masala spice mix:

  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon of turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

1 cup (240ml measure) of chopped fresh tomatoes (I like to skin them first but you don’t have to) – plus extra slices for a garnish

1 teaspoon of sea salt

1 ½ lbs (680g) of firm white fish fillets, cut into 2 inch (50mm) chunks

½ cup (120ml) of canned coconut milk (not the ‘lite’ version)

½ cup (120ml) of water


Heat the oil in the pan over a medium heat and once it’s hot, fry the sliced onion, garlic, ginger, chili and curry leaves until the onions start to brown.

Add all of the masala spices along with the diced tomatoes and salt. Fry gently for another 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes soften, stirring frequently.

BLOG, Kerala Fish Curry with Coconut milk 031Push the tomato/spice mixture to the sides of the pan and arrange the fish in a single layer, carefully spreading the spice mixture back over the fillets.

Mix the coconut milk and water together then carefully pour it over the fish, shaking the pan very gently to combine everything.

Bring it to a gentle simmer then put the lid on and let it cook for 10-12 minutes or until the fish is opaque.

Check the salt then carefully transfer everything to a warmed, shallow serving dish (or serve it straight from the pan) garnished with extra slices of tomato.

(Recipe adapted from Maya Kaimal ‘Savoring The Spice Coast Of India’ cookbook)

About edibletcetera

I'm passionate about food; I cook, photograph, eat...then writes about it in that order. I'm also an occasional restaurant critic and caterer; a former newspaper columnist; author; social media/marketing communications; world traveler; dog lover; skier...and wit, (according to those who know me).
This entry was posted in Fish & Seafood, Indian & Asian Cuisine. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Recipe: Kerala Fish Curry with Coconut Milk

  1. Vigi says:

    I feel that my comment will have sufficient gravitas as I have had this dish prepared by Chef Jackie. It is delicious. It has a delicate flavor of fish in a light sauce of coconut milk and water and is a pleasant alternative to the thick curries that are often hallmarks of Indian cooking (I love those too).

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