International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Kerala Fish Curry

Kerala fish curry

(Indian fish in a tangy coconut curry)

Image by rovingi

Average: 4.2 (25 votes)

Kerala curry is a famous fish curry from the southern Indian state of Kerala. It is traditionally served in a shallow clay dish called a chatty, or manchatti.

4 to 6 servings


  • Onion, chopped -- 1
  • Garlic, peeled -- 4 to 6 cloves
  • Gingerroot, peeled and thinly sliced -- 1 (1-inch) piece
  • Chile peppers, chopped -- 1 to 6
  • Tamarind pulp -- 2 or 3 tablespoons
  • Warm water -- 1 1/2 cups
  • Oil -- 3 or 4 tablespoons
  • Mustard seeds -- 1 tablespoon
  • Ground coriander -- 1 tablespoon
  • Turmeric --2 teaspoons
  • Fenugreek -- 1 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves (optional) -- 4 to 6
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste
  • White fish, cut into bite-sized pieces -- 2 pounds
  • Coconut milk -- 1 1/2 cups


  1. Place the onion, garlic, gingerroot and chilies in a blender or food processor and process until pureed but still a little chunky. You may have to add a little water and work in batches if using a blender.
  2. Mix the tamarind pulp with the water and break it up with a fork or your hands to dissolve. Strain the tamarind water and discard the pulp.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pot, kadhai or wok over medium-high flame. Add the mustard seeds and sauté until they start to pop. Add the dry spices quickly and stir just until they are absorbed by the oil. Do not allow the spices to burn.
  4. Quickly add the onion puree and curry leaves. Reduce heat to low and cook until the liquid is reduced and the onions have lost their raw flavor, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Add the tamarind water, season with salt and pepper and simmer another 10 to 15 minutes to meld the flavors and reduce the liquid a little.
  6. Stir in the fish and coconut milk and simmer slowly another 5 to 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Adjust seasoning and serve with basmati rice.

Kerala Fish Curry Variations

  • Fish curries in Kerala commonly use kudam puli (also known as kodampuli, kodum puli, kukum star or black tamarind) as a souring agent. This recipe uses regular tamarind as a substitute. Some recipes call for lemon juice or even vinegar.
  • Kerala curry is good with a wide variety of fish. Use whatever is available to you.
  • Add 1/4 cup grated coconut with the tamarind water.
  • Add 1 cup chopped tomatoes if you like.
  • The dish is normally served quite spicy. Vary the number of chilies according to your taste.
  • Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of paprika along with the other spices.
  • Some recipes eliminate the coconut milk but use coconut oil to sauté the onion puree and spices.


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