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Keralan Fish Curry

by Rosie Ramsden from The Recipe Wheel

A fragrant fish curry inspired by the flavours of South India. This Keralan-style fish dish is flavoured with aromatic spices and finished with coriander and lime.


Soft, pure-flavoured white fish is a great partner for spice, as its fresh-tasting, muted tones won’t overwhelm the fresh aromatics. You want to develop the flavours of the curry before adding the fish to lightly poach, so season to taste as you go and make sure all your ingredients are fragrant and fresh, and just the heat you like them. With any luck, most of these spices will be loitering in your store- cupboard. Roll limes along the tabletop before you squeeze to get them juicy.

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1 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil (always have a jar in the cupboard – it’s a delicious base for curries and makes a superb hand cream for all you washer-uppers out there; Biona do a good one)
15 fresh curry leaves (available from Natoora or Indian supermarkets; freeze-dried aren’t really worth the bother – if you can’t find fresh, use a pinch of mild curry powder instead)
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp mild chilli powder
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 small onions, finely chopped
½–1 red chilli
A 4cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
200ml fish stock
500g responsibly caught firm white fish, skin removed, cut into 5cm chunks
Juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
To serve:
Lime wedges
A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Cooked basmati rice


Fry the mustard seeds in the coconut oil over a medium heat for 3 minutes, or until the seeds begin to pop. Add the curry leaves and the dry spices and fry for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the onions with a drop of water, season and fry for 10 minutes, covered, until softened. Then stir in the fresh chilli, ginger and garlic, frying for another minute.

Pour in the coconut milk and stock and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered, to reduce slightly. Add the fish and poach for 5–7 minutes until cooked through. Squeeze in the lime juice and stir in with the desiccated coconut. Serve in bowls with the chopped coriander, lime wedges and fluffy basmati rice.


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