Kerala-Style Fish Curry

Originating from the tropical south coast of Indian, Kerala-style fish curries often feature creamy coconut milk. Accompany with jasmine rice and green beans.

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Although I use wild sea bass here, you can use whatever fish looks good and fresh – haddock, halibut, salmon (steaks or thick fillet pieces), kingfish steaks or even mackerel pieces. This is a creamy curry best eaten with rice. In Kerala it looks red from all the hot chilli powder in it, but I have softened the heat with some paprika, which also helps to add the colour. Serve with Plain Jasmine Rice and South Indian-style Green Beans (see pages 211 and 145 of Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Easy book for these recipes).

Serves 2-4


450-560g/1-1¼lb wild sea bass fillet with skin, 1-2 cm/½-¾ inch thick, cut crossways into 7.5-cm/3-inch segments
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
65g/2½oz peeled and very finely sliced shallots
1 tsp peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 tbsp sweet red paprika
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
120ml/4fl oz coconut milk, from a well-shaken can


Spread the fish pieces out and sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt on both sides Set aside as you prepare the sauce.

Put the oil into a frying pan and set over a medium-high heat. When hot, put in the shallots. Stir and fry until they just start to brown at the edges. Add the ginger and garlic. Stir for 1 minute. Now add 250 ml/8 fl oz water, the turmeric, cayenne pepper, paprika, lots of black pepper, the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring now and then. Add the coconut milk and mix it in. Bring the sauce back to a simmer.

Put the fish pieces in the pan in a single layer and cook over a medium-low heat, spooning the sauce over them until they are poached, 5-10 minutes.

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