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Spicy Kerala Fish Curry

Spicy Kerala Fish Curry - spicy and tangy fish curry with flavors of roasted coconut, ginger, garlic and different types peppers. Served best with steamed rice.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4


  • ~100 gms ~1 cup Grated coconut
  • 1 tbsp Coriander Powder
  • tbsp Kashmiri Red chilli powder; adjust to taste; add less for milder version
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • ½ tsp Whole black pepper; adjust to taste; add less for milder version
  • 1 inch Ginger; julienned + more for garnish
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves; julienned
  • 1-2 Green chillies; slit lengthwise. adjust to taste; add less for milder version
  • 1 tsbp Tamarind pulp
  • 500 gms 3 fillet Tilapia; cut into pieces. I cut each fillet into 3
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • Curry Leaves


  • Roast& Grind
  • Heat a kadai or pan on medium heat.
  • Add coconut and fry till aromatic and turns brown in color. Stir occasionally. (Approx. 8-10 minutes.)
  • Turn the temperature to low. [Note :Fry the spices on low heat to prevent burning]
  • Add coriander powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder, turmeric powder and whole black pepper,
  • Fry on low heat for about 4-5 minutes or until the spices turn fragrant.
  • Let it cool. Grind to a smooth paste using about ½-¾ cup of water.

  • Prepare the spicy Kerala fish curry
  • Add the ground paste to the kadai/pan. After that add green chillies, ginger, garlic and finally tamarind pulp.
  • Add approx. 1 - 1½ cups of water (adjust to desired consistency). Turn the heat to medium. Bring to a rapid boil.
  • Add fish pieces. Gently press down the pieces to completely submerge in the gravy.
  • Cover and cook until fish pieces are cooked thoroughly (approx. 5-7 minutes).
  • Drizzle coconut oil. Add curry leaves and julienned ginger for garnish.
  • Serve hot with rice OR kappa (yucca)



  • 1 cup = 250 ml. Typical US cups are 240 ml. You can use US cups for measurements without any drastic difference in the recipe.
  • Grams to cups measurements – we strive to provide these conversions as accurately as possible. There might be some slight variations depending on the brand, weighing scale etc.
  • I have used a lodge cast iron kadai to cook the fish curry. I remove it from the kadai as soon the cooking process is completed. But if you are worried about the curry reacting with the cast iron and imparting metallic taste, use a non-reactive kadai to prepare the dish. Any stainless steel or non-stick kadai will be perfect.
  • Be gentle with stirring once you add the fish. The Tilapia cooks quickly and if you are not gentle, you risk the chance of breaking it. I leave it undisturbed once I add the fish. Use gentle movements to check the doneness of the fish pieces.
  • This is a spicy dish. If you want a milder version of the dish, use less Kashmiri red chilli powder (You can use Sweet Paprika as a substitute), less whole black pepper and less Green chillies. L-O-V-E more spice? Add more of red chilli powder, black pepper and green chillies.
  • Serving Size - I am assuming a typical Kerala meal when considering the serving size. Two pieces of fish per serving along with rice and vegetable accompaniment should be a satisfying meal.