Fish Curry

Photographs by Sebastian John
Photographs by Sebastian John

Fish curry and rice is kind of the staple diet in Kerala. If you travel across the state the chances of having a fish and rice lunch are very high, be it restaurants or at home. I have even eaten fish curry at 6 a.m. for breakfast with porotta in Kasargod (northern district of Kerala). Anyways, for whatever reasons I have not cooked fish curry ever since I came to the US three years back. Couple of days ago I chanced upon frozen raw mangoes at a Bangladeshi/Pakistani/Indian store.  So I decided to give it a try, loosely based on the recipe my mom uses (for some reason my wife had the recipe in her book!!!). My mom uses this recipe for cooking mackerel, which I have hard time getting it where I live. So I tried trout fillets.

Ingredients (for 6 servings)
1. 3 trout fillets cut into 3 inch long portions.
2. For fish marinade – half teaspoon of red chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder.
3. Tomato paste blended with the following powders – coriander (1 tablespoon), chilli (1 tablespoon), cumin (1 teaspoon), fenugreek (1/4 teaspoon) and turmeric (1/2 teaspoon).
4. One cup raw mango.
5. Chopped half red onion – make two portions.
6. One tablespoon chopped habanero – make two portions.
7. One tablespoon chopped ginger – make two portions.
8. 1/4 cup coconut milk.
9. Three tablespoon of oil.
10. Salt to taste
11. Finely chopped red onion for tempering and garnish.


1. Marinate the fish with chili powder, turmeric powder, and one portion of chopped red onion, habanero, ginger, pinch of salt and set aside in fridge for a hour or so. (see the bottom right photo of the combo image).

2. Heat two tablespoon of oil in a saute pan (fish tastes best when cooked in a clay pot, called the meen chatti in Kerala), and stir-fry the tomato paste till it turns brick red color and oil starts to seperate.

3. Add the other half portion of chopped red onion, habanero and ginger and saute for 2 minutes on a medium heat.

4. Add half a cup of hot water and bring it boil. Add mangoes, cover and simmer till mangoes are half cooked.


5. Add the marinated fish, cover and simmer for about 6 minutes; then add coconut milk and cook for another 4 minutes till fish is firm.


6. For tempering, fry the finely chopped onions till they turn golden brown and pour the fish curry. Serve with rice.


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