Goan Fish Curry with Tamarind

Enjoy the bold flavours of Goa in this lip-smacking fish curry recipe from The Spice Tree. Nisha Katona pairs tamarind with delicate white fish with delicious results.

The Spice Tree
From the book The Spice Tree


In the heat and colour of Goa, stronger flavours in curry are celebrated. Unlike elsewhere, they do not frown upon the meat triumvirate of onions, ginger and garlic joining forces with strong, firm sea fish. Tarmarind is a very common Goan addition. Hot-and-sour dishes are seen as sweat-inducing, which, in the tropical heat of the Goan coast, is considered cooling. 

Serves 4
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min
Total time: 40 min


4 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp Panch poron
2 white onions, cut in half then thinly sliced lengthways
5cm piece of fresh ginger, 20g peeled and grated
4 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
650g skinless cod fillets, cut into large chunks
2 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
200g tinned chopped tomatoes
1/8 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 small bunch of fresh coriander, stalks and leaves, roughly chopped
obligatory backup jug of water, to loosen the dish to your taste


Put 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large heavy-based pan to set over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the panch poron and fry until the nuggets of fenugreek turn deep golden brown, then turn the heat down to medium and add the onions, ginger and garlic and fry for 8 minutes until the onions are soft and brown. 

Rub the chunks of cod lightly with 2 teaspoons of the ground turmeric, then, in a separate large non-stick frying pan setover a medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and when hot, flash fry the fish for 1 minute, then set aside. 

Add the chopped tomatoes to the onion mixture and cook gently for 6 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated, then add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric, the chilli powder, tamarind paste and brown sugar and give everything a good mix together. 

Gently add the fish to the sauce and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the fish is tender and cooked through. Finish by stirring through the fresh coriander just before serving. Add a little water if necesary to loosen to your taste.  

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