How to Make Malabar Fish Curry: A Flavorful Coastal Delight

Malabar Fish Curry is a traditional dish from the Malabar region of Kerala, India. Known for its rich and tangy flavors, this curry is made with fresh fish, a blend of spices, and coconut milk, giving it a unique and delicious taste. Malabar Fish Curry is often served with steamed rice or appam, making it a perfect meal for seafood lovers. Here’s a detailed guide on how to make this classic dish at home.


For the Fish Marinade:

  • 500 grams fish (preferably kingfish, seer fish, or any firm white fish), cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Curry:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 green chilies, slit
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 1 cup tamarind extract (soak a lemon-sized ball of tamarind in water and extract the juice)
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • 1 cup thin coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh curry leaves
  • Fresh coriander leaves, chopped (for garnish)


Step 1: Marinate the Fish

  1. Marinate the Fish: In a large bowl, combine the fish pieces with turmeric powder, red chili powder, and salt. Mix well to coat the fish evenly. Set aside for 20-30 minutes.

Step 2: Prepare the Curry Base

  1. Heat Oil: In a large pan or clay pot, heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil over medium heat.
  2. Add Mustard and Fenugreek Seeds: Add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Let them splutter.
  3. Add Onions and Green Chilies: Add the finely sliced onions and slit green chilies. Sauté until the onions turn golden brown.
  4. Add Ginger-Garlic Paste: Add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for 2-3 minutes until the raw smell disappears.
  5. Add Tomatoes and Spices: Add the finely chopped tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes become soft and the oil begins to separate. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, and black pepper powder. Mix well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Step 3: Cook the Curry

  1. Add Tamarind Extract: Add the tamarind extract to the pan. Stir well and bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Add Thin Coconut Milk: Add the thin coconut milk and salt to taste. Mix well and let the curry simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the Fish: Gently add the marinated fish pieces to the curry. Ensure the fish is submerged in the curry.
  4. Simmer the Curry: Cover and simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and tender. Stir occasionally but gently to avoid breaking the fish pieces.
  5. Add Thick Coconut Milk: Add the thick coconut milk and fresh curry leaves. Mix gently and simmer for another 5 minutes. Do not boil after adding the thick coconut milk to prevent curdling.

Step 4: Garnish and Serve

  1. Garnish the Curry: Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
  2. Serve Hot: Serve the Malabar Fish Curry hot with steamed rice, appam, or roti.

Tips for Perfect Malabar Fish Curry

  1. Fresh Fish: Use fresh fish for the best taste and texture. Firm white fish varieties like kingfish or seer fish work well.
  2. Coconut Oil: Use coconut oil for an authentic flavor. It adds a distinct taste that is characteristic of Kerala cuisine.
  3. Coconut Milk: Use both thick and thin coconut milk to achieve a rich and creamy consistency. Do not boil the curry after adding thick coconut milk to avoid curdling.
  4. Tamarind: Adjust the amount of tamarind extract according to your taste preference. It adds a tangy flavor that balances the spices.
  5. Spice Levels: Adjust the red chili powder and green chilies to suit your heat preference.


Malabar Fish Curry is a beloved dish that showcases the rich culinary heritage of Kerala’s Malabar region. Its unique blend of spices, tangy tamarind, and creamy coconut milk creates a harmonious and flavorful curry that is sure to delight your taste buds. By following this detailed recipe, you can recreate the magic of this traditional dish in your own kitchen. Serve it with your favorite accompaniments and enjoy the delicious and aromatic flavors of Malabar Fish Curry!

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