Easy Fish Curry for Beginners

Easy Fish Curry for Beginners

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 4 servings

There are so many iterations of fish curry, you might get lost figuring out which is the best to try first. This traditional fish curry recipe is made with whole paanch phoran seeds and gets a bit of a kick from red chilies. The ingredients used here show a mix of both eastern and northern Indian culinary influences, so it's a good place to start before graduating to regional specialties like Goan or Mangalorean fish curries. Serve it on a bed of hot plain boiled rice.

Ingredients

  • 8 dry red chilies
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 2 large tomatoes (cut into cubes)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons coconut powder
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon paanch phoran seeds
  • 10 to 12 curry leaves
  • 1 large onion (ground to a paste)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 2 cups water (hot)
  • Walnut-sized ball of tamarind paste
  • 2 pounds/1 kilogram fish (cut into 1-inch thick slices)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Coriander (chopped, to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Easy Fish Curry for Beginners ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat and roast the dry red chilies, mustard, and cumin seeds until they begin to release their aroma.

    spices toasting in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Cool and grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder, blender, or by hand using a mortar and pestle.

    toasted spices ground into a powder with a mortar and pestle

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Grind the toasted spice powder, tomatoes, turmeric, garam masala, and coconut into a smooth paste. Set aside.

    Grind the toasted spice powder, tomatoes, turmeric, garam masala, and coconut into a smooth paste

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Heat the oil in a wide heavy-bottomed pan and add the paanch phoran and curry leaves. When they stop spluttering, add the onion paste and fry until light brown.

    onions, paanch phoran and curry leaves cooking in a pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry for 3 to 4 minutes.

    ginger and garlic paste cooking in a pot with the onion mixture

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Add the tomato and spice paste and fry until the oil begins to separate from the masala.

    masala in a pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Add 2 cups of hot water and the tamarind paste to the masala and mix well.

    water added to the masala paste in the pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Bring the gravy to a boil and then simmer.

    gravy cooking in a pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  10. Gently add the fish to the gravy and cook until done.

    add fish to the gravy in the pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  11. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with plain boiled rice.

    Easy Fish Curry for Beginners in a pot, served with rice

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Tips

  • This curry tastes best with rohu, but you can use any fish with firm, white flesh.
  • To add a fresh finish to the dish, squeeze some lime juice on top before serving.
  • Instead of plain rice, serve the curry over basmati rice and top with thinly-sliced white onion.
  • If the dish seems too "seedy," grind all of the whole seeds in the paanch phoran, or use pre-ground spices.