Coconut Fish Curry

by Kiran on October 5, 2012 · 87 comments

in Curries, Indian, Seafood

Seafood holds a special place in my heart. To be specific, I have a serious liking for fish. This is probably why I can never bring myself to be a vegetarian.

Nope. Never. Sorry.

I have fond memories of how seafood played an important role on my palate. It all begins with fishing.

I was 8. And he was…. well, older of course.

We grew up in our hometown, living side-by-side as neighbors. Our backyard came with the smallest river you can imagine.

Some refer to it as creek, but I’d rather use the term river.

My uncle had a knack for anything and everything fishing. He was so good at it, he’d caught fishes with bare hands. Magic I tell ya.

With a river in our backyard, life was pretty much set. We had fresh fish right at our beck and call. And to top it off, we even had a small area where my mom and aunt would prepare a makeshift fire pit or grill.

Those days, having a grill was definitely unheard of. So, you do what you have to in order to indulge in delicious, moist and freshly baked or grill fish.

There were days where we practically begged my mom to make her famous coconut fish curry. No fancy schmancy makeshift fire pit of sort. Just simmering curry on the stove top with fragrant spices and meaty fish, drenched in coconut spiced curry.

The feeling was indescribable. Well, until now :)

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Inspired by my Mom :)



  • 3 fillets of firm fish — i used tilapia
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Fish curry
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
  • 8 to 10 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 small green chilies, slitted
  • 1 medium red onion, grated
  • 2 small tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 heaping tbsp fish curry powder*
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp tamarind*
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water


  1. Cube fish fillets to desired size. Marinate with juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/8 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder. Set aside for at least 15 minutes.
  2. In large saucepan, heat coconut oil on medium. Once oil is heated, sprinkle in some mustard seeds. Wait for seeds to sputter a little before adding turmeric powder, curry leaves, garlic paste and green chilies. Cook for a minute.
  3. Add grated red onion and cook until fragrant and everything comes together as a paste. This should take about 5 minutes.
  4. Throw in quartered tomatoes, fish curry powder, chili powder, tamarind, salt and black pepper. Fry for a few minutes until oil separates.
  5. Heat a separate non-stick skillet on medium high, add 1 tbsp coconut oil and fry marinated fish cubes for 2 minutes on each sides until lightly golden.
  6. Once the paste is nice and golden, add coconut milk and water.
  7. Add skillet fried fish cubes in the gravy, cover and simmer on low for 15 to 20 minutes or until oil separates and gravy thickens.
  8. Serve coconut fish curry hot with a serving of rice and salad!

*Note: You can purchase fish curry powder from any ethnic Indian grocery store. It is not the same as regular “curry powder”. As for tamarind, it usually comes in paste form. If not, fresh tamarind needs to soak in some warm water a few minutes before adding into curries.

I’m off to the farmer’s market to menu plan for the upcoming week. Sounds fun? And hey, long weekend is coming up. Any plans?

Have a great day!

Any fond childhood fishing memories? Care to share? :)


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{ 85 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rosa October 5, 2012 at 12:07 PM

A splendid curry! You are making me hungry. Nice clicks and presentation.




2 Kiran October 9, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Rosa — thanks my dear, and now, I am hungry too! 😀


3 Monet October 5, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Just beautiful. My husband went fishing in Alaska last summer and he had an amazing trip (and brought home some amazing seafood). I know this curry would make his and my day. Thank you for sharing! Eager to try this.
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4 Kiran October 9, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Monet — yay, do try and let me know how it tastes. I hope we get to visit Alaska in the near future!


5 Dixya @ Food, Pleasure and Health October 5, 2012 at 12:22 PM

oh my..this is so mouthwatering especially right now because I am literally counting hours till my lunch break. I have never been fishing but absolutely love any seafood..


6 Kiran October 9, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Dixya — thank you for the compliment and I hope your lunch was satisfactory :)


7 Ansh October 5, 2012 at 12:31 PM

what an amazing looking dish! Gorgeous photographs and beautiful memories! Made my morning reading so delicious!
Ansh recently posted..Lamb Apricot Stew – Indian Inspired


8 Kiran October 9, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Ansh — thanks a lot my friend :)


9 Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb October 5, 2012 at 12:32 PM

mhm, fishcurry…
I like all the flavors involved here, especially the tamarind, giving it a nice tang. I feel like making fish curry tomorrow. =)

I have one fishing memory where I and my cousin walked in the river. Each was standing on one side and we blocked the fish and caught it. It was a rainbow trout. =)
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10 Kiran October 9, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Helene — did you made fish curry the other day? :)

Wow, what a great catch! I love childhood memories :)


11 Vijitha October 5, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Wow, that looks so good Kiran. My grandparents live in a town where we can find fresh fish. My summer breaks are filled with memories of eating different dishes with fresh seafoods. Awesome picture as always. I am making fish curry (Tamilnadu style Meen Kozhambhu) for dinner tonight and I bake the salmon and add it to the simmering tamarind gravy.
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12 Kiran October 9, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Vijitha — thanks my dear. Your version of fish curry just made my mouth water :)


13 Alyssa (Everyday Maven) October 5, 2012 at 4:25 PM

That is a gorgeous fish curry Kiran and great story!
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14 Kiran October 10, 2012 at 3:41 AM

Alyssa — thank you!


15 Cassie October 5, 2012 at 4:25 PM

I love this! I just took a fish curry class last weekend and loved it. These flavors, the stories. All so great!
Cassie recently posted..Breakfast Pot Pies with Mushroom & Herb Gravy


16 Kiran October 10, 2012 at 3:43 AM

Cassie — thanks, dear friend :)


17 Anamika | madcookingfusions October 5, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Childhood memories are always cherished, gorgeous fish curry Kiran :)!


18 Kiran October 10, 2012 at 3:43 AM

Anamika — thank you my dear :)


19 Tadka Pasta October 6, 2012 at 7:41 AM

That curry is just wow. Great flavours! Childhood fishing afternoon I played with some fish swimming in a bucket of thing I know they were staring beady-eyed up at me from my plate. Did not eat fish again for many years :))
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20 Kiran October 10, 2012 at 4:02 AM

Tadka Pasta — that is one traumatic experience. I hope you aren’t scarred forever. 😉


21 Ina gawne October 6, 2012 at 9:31 AM

This curry looks amazing. I’m with you…love love love fresh fish! :)


22 Kiran October 10, 2012 at 4:05 AM

Ina — thanks, dear friend :)


23 mycookinghut October 6, 2012 at 1:16 PM

The talapia looks really fresh and of course the curry looks amazingly delicious too!
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24 Kiran October 10, 2012 at 4:11 AM

Leemei — thank you!


25 Sophie October 6, 2012 at 1:24 PM

A stunning & very tasty looking fish curry! I love it! :) xxx
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26 Kiran October 10, 2012 at 4:18 AM

Sophie — thank you, dear!


27 Choc Chip Uru October 6, 2012 at 3:32 PM

What stunning presentations my friend, I have never tried making fish curry before!

Choc Chip Uru
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28 Kiran October 10, 2012 at 4:21 AM

Uru — make it, puhleaseeeee!


29 Kim Bee October 6, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Goodness Kiran this is fabulous. I love this recipe. I’m such a coconut fan so I’m digging this.
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30 Kiran October 10, 2012 at 4:22 AM

Kim Bee — thank you, dear :)


31 Simply Life October 6, 2012 at 5:10 PM

oh this is one of my absolute favorite meals! looks like you’ve perfected it!..and I love where the recipe inspiration comes from :)
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32 Kiran October 10, 2012 at 4:26 AM

Gina — thank you dear :)


33 Carolyn Chan October 6, 2012 at 8:21 PM

Love your inspiration :) that curry looks amazing! So silky and warm.
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34 Kiran October 11, 2012 at 11:44 AM

Carolyn — thank you my dear :)


35 Gerlinde in Dallas October 6, 2012 at 8:44 PM

I didn’t care for fish at all when I was a child, mostly because I didn’t like the tiny slivers of bones I often came across. Now I love fish and find it odd I rarely encounter bones of any kind.. keep forgetting to ask my mum about that.

Your curry looks divine; wonderful flavours!
Gerlinde in Dallas recently posted..Cod, Shrimp & Fennel Chowder


36 Kiran October 11, 2012 at 11:44 AM

Gerlinde — getting boneless fillets are so easy this days :)


37 October 6, 2012 at 9:46 PM

Looks delicious kiran. I love it. The first photo of the fish is STUNNING recently posted..Ban Live Exports


38 Kiran October 11, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Tania — thank you!!!


39 chinmayie @ love food eat October 7, 2012 at 12:58 AM

Oooh! That’s a lovely curry. I could probably make that with some other vegetable 😉
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40 Kiran October 11, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Chinmayie — Thank you! Try it and let me know :)


41 Raymund October 7, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Wow thats a nice curry, I am glad you used tilapia. I love that fish but to bad we dont have it here in NZ
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42 Kiran October 11, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Raymund — I had to use tilapia, because other fillets were much more expensive 😉


43 Yasmeen @ Wandering Spice October 7, 2012 at 6:19 AM

Fish curry – could there be a more delectable dinner, especially for the fickle weather we’re having in Melbourne right now? I think not.

So wonderful to see this recipe as my Mister and I were just talking about finding a good fish curry write-up. Will be giving this a try for sure.
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44 Kiran October 11, 2012 at 12:04 PM

Yasmeen — thank you so much!! I agree, fickle weather and spicy curry goes along so well!

Let me know how it tastes :)


45 EA-The Spicy RD October 7, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Love your story and what a gorgeous fish curry! My earliest fishing memory is of deep sea fishing with my dad here in San Diego when I was in kindergarten. I caught a couple of fish (with his help, I’m sure!), then we froze them so I could bring them in for “show-and-tell”. Funny…I don’t remember a lot from when I was 5, but I sure do remember that fishing trip :-)
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46 Kiran October 11, 2012 at 12:08 PM

EA — love your fishing memories!! Thanks for sharing :)


47 The Squishy Monster October 8, 2012 at 12:50 AM

Bare hands, eh? Sounds like my pops =) This looks lovely. I too, am a huge fan of seafood and have this bookmarked to make soon!!
The Squishy Monster recently posted..Sweet Potato Cupcakes


48 Kiran October 11, 2012 at 12:54 PM

TSM — yay, thanks and do let me know how it tastes :)


49 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella October 8, 2012 at 3:41 AM

That’s wonderful! I adore fish curries and your mum must be so proud of you being inspired by her curry :)
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50 Kiran October 11, 2012 at 1:05 PM

Lorraine — ooohhh, I hope so too :)


51 Angie@Angie's Recipes October 8, 2012 at 4:16 AM

A scrumptious curry! Great click of the fish fillets.
Angie@Angie’s Recipes recently posted..Roasted Pumpkin and Brussels Sprouts


52 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 12:28 AM

Angie — thank you!!


53 Suchi October 8, 2012 at 7:25 AM

I am a fish mad Bengali, looking at your fish photos my dinner menu just got set, it has to be fish and lo and behold I also have half a fresh coconut languishing in the fridge…:-)
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54 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 12:38 AM

Suchi — did you make it? :)


55 Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake October 8, 2012 at 7:28 AM

I love seafood too! But I’m definitely more of a meat kind of person…however, whatever you make sounds so delicious, I’m sure I’d totally adore this curry. 😀 Beautiful photos and styling.
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56 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 12:39 AM

Jenny — thanks a lot for the compliments, my dear :)


57 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective October 8, 2012 at 8:47 AM

What a brilliant and inspiring dish! CAN’T WAIT TO MAKE IT. :)
Sommer@ASpicyPerspective recently posted..Homemade Sausage Lasagna (with a secret ingredient)


58 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 12:54 AM

Sommer — thanks!! do try and let me know how it tastes :)


59 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc October 8, 2012 at 10:49 AM

I am definitely trying this! Too pretty for words! Hope you had a wonderful weekend
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60 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 12:56 AM

Alison — thanks dear, do let me know how it tastes :)


61 Asmita October 8, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Hi Kiran,
The fish curry looks amazing! Great minds think alike, I am posting a coconut shrimp curry soon.
Your photographs are beautiful!
Asmita recently posted..Creamy Asparagus Soup


62 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 12:58 AM

Hi Asmita — I just saw your goan curry recipe. Mind boggling-ly delish 😉


63 Daisy@Nevertoosweet October 8, 2012 at 8:16 PM

I love coconut based curries :) sounds and looks very aromatic and lovely to eat! I wish I could make curries from scratch! I get a bit overwhelmed and scared of using herbs and spices hehe
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64 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 12:59 AM

Daisy — it looks intimidating, but I’m sure you’d get a hang of it. Try it and let me know how it tastes :)


65 Laura (Tutti Dolci) October 8, 2012 at 8:18 PM

I love curry, what a scrumptious dish!
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66 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 1:01 AM

Laura — thank you, dear friend :)


67 Cass @foodmyfriend October 9, 2012 at 1:56 AM

No hard feelings, we can still be friends 😛 Your curry does look very tempting!
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68 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 1:01 AM

Cass — lol 😀


69 Laura Nicolaisen October 9, 2012 at 5:05 AM

Mmmh.. This look delicious! Im a very big fan of fish and curry together. Will definitely try this one.
Nice with your fishing memories. I caught a really ugly fish in Greenland once. Haha.. So sounds like you have more experience!
Laura Nicolaisen recently posted..Fabulous fast food – My new favorite dish: Pad Thai


70 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 1:08 AM

Laura — thanks for visiting Recipebox and leaving a beautiful comment :)

Do try this recipe and let me know how it tastes. You sound like a great fishing person yourself 😀


71 Kitchen Belleicious October 9, 2012 at 8:34 AM

coconut, fish and curry- two amazing flavors with one amazing fish. We are lovers of seafood in this house and I know this dish would be a hit!


72 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 12:29 PM

Jessica — thank you and I hope you get to give it a try soon :)


73 kellie@foodtoglow October 9, 2012 at 9:37 AM

Just came over from Everyday Maven as I liked the sound of your curry (love that she has our latest recipes with our name). Not disappointed – it looks and sounds fab. I can almost smell it here in Edinburgh 😀


74 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 12:33 PM

Kellie — Welcome to Recipebox and thanks for the compliments. Truly made my day :)


75 Simply Vicky October 9, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Few things are more comforting to me than coconut curry on a chilly night…wishing this was in my kitchen instead of yours!
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76 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Vicky — your comment made my day!! thank you!!!


77 Jolene ( October 10, 2012 at 1:14 AM

I CANNOT wait to make this!


78 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Jolene — Enjoy! :)


79 Nami | Just One Cookbook October 10, 2012 at 2:10 AM

You’ve got everything – great recipe, amazing photography, and food looks super!!!! Each picture is absolutely beautiful Kiran….
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80 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Nami — thank you so much for the compliments, my dear friend :)


81 Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet October 11, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Your dish looks stunning! I love your story – so precious especially that it comes with a recipe like this.
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82 Kiran October 12, 2012 at 5:22 PM

Anna — thank you so much for the compliments & beautiful thought :)


83 dassana October 14, 2012 at 2:00 PM

amazing photography :-)
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84 Joanne @ Inspired Taste October 18, 2012 at 4:24 PM

Your fish curry looks absolutely delicious! Fish is one of our favorites, too!
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85 andrea August 3, 2015 at 6:41 PM EVER! Thank you so much for this recipe Rosa. This curry is better then my mother-in-law recipe – pssssst, im not allowed to tell anyone…. but my husband did say it :)!!


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