Mum’s Fish Curry

This fish curry is a staple food in almost all homes in Kerala. The preparation style might vary but it is regularly consumed. My husband cannot do without this fish curry. I think this fish curry has travelled along generations.  As a child I didn’t like this fish curry because I judged by its colour that it would be spicy. But actually the spiciness can be adjusted and the colour is based on the red chilli powder used. Every time I make this curry and I always think if my mom will like it or not.Whether it was as per her standards or not.Not only the recipe but the ingredients and utensils used for this recipe has emotional bonds with my mother and mother in law. This curry is usually made in earthenware which was gifted to me by my mom. It is one of my prized possessions in my kitchen. The tamarind used is always sent to me by my mom. I never have to buy these and I don’t know how to buy these. I just call her up when my stock finishes. The chilli powder used is sent to me by mother in law who goes through the pain of selecting, drying, grinding and roasting the chilli powder. Hence, I dedicate this recipe to both my mother and mother in law.

The recipe I am mentioning here is a quickie recipe. A recipe that can be cooked on a working day. On a day after you return from office and you just have half an hour in hand.  Best thing about this recipe is it can be used for any type of fish ranging from Sardine, Mackerel, Pomfret, Tuna, King Fish, Seer Fish, etc. This curry goes best with Mashed Tapoica (Kappa) and Rice. But I and my son have this curry with roti.

Sardines contain energy, protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and zinc. Vitamins in sardines include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, A, D, E and vitamin K.When I was pregnant my nutritionist specifically advised to take sardines on a daily basis. It is very good for kids too.


So here goes,

Serves : 4

Time: 30 minutes


  1. Fish (I have used Sardine) – ½ kg
  2. Garlic – 10-12 garlic cloves
  3. Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tblspn
  4. Kashmiri Red chilli powder – 2 tblspn
  5. Coriander Powder – 1 tblspoon
  6. Fenugreek powder – ½ tsp
  7. Fish Tamarind/ Gambooge/Malabar Tamarind/Kudampuli – 5-6 pieces
  8. Salt – to taste
  9. Coconut Oil – 2 tblspn
  10. Mustard – 1 tsp
  11. Curry Leaves – 1-2 stem
  12. Shallots – 2


  1. Soak tamarind in water.
  2. Chop shallots finely.
  3. Peel and slit garlic cloves lengthwise
  4. Take a small bowl and mix chilli powder, coriander powder and fenugreek powder with little water to make slurry. Keep it aside.
  5. Heat coconut oil in clay pot earthenware. If you don’t have one you can prepare it non-stick pan.
  6. Once hot, crackle mustard seeds.
  7. Add the curry leaves.
  8. Now add chopped shallots and garlic. Saute them till translucent.
  9. Add the ginger-garlic paste. Saute them till the raw smell leaves.
  10. Now add the chilli-coriander-fenugreek slurry.
  11. Saute them for 2 minutes in oil.
  12. Now add 2 cups water and bring to a boil.
  13. Add the tamarind and fish pieces.
  14. Add salt to taste.
  15. Let it cook for 15 minutes. Don’t mix the curry with spoon. Just give it a slight shake at regular intervals or use the spoon to slowly move the fish pieces around. This is crucial step since the fish being delicate may break if stirred heavily.

Fish curry is ready to be served.  Enjoy.

This recipe is also published in Archana’s kitchen at


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