Madras Fish Masala

Sharing a fish curry recipe after long! Every time I buy fish, I tend to make the usual tried and tested recipes like Kerala Fish Curry or Fish Molly.

Have been wanting to try something different and chanced upon this recipe. Though it has a number of steps compared to the usual ones, it was worth it. Also, its flavor profile is quite different from the regular fish curry that I make.

This curry uses both coconut paste and coconut milk, also cumin seeds and tamarind pulp which I rarely use in a fish curry. Honestly, I was a bit skeptical about how it will turn up, but all's well that ends well ;)

This curry has a rich gravy and goes well with plain rice/pulao/roti etc;

Hope you get to try it soon.

Here is the recipe…

Madras fish Masala
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Madras Fish Masala

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Course: Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: Tamil, South Indian, Indian
Keyword: Fish masala, fish curry, south indian fish curry, Fish curry with coconut milk, spicy fish curry
Author: Maria Jose Martin


  • 500 gms Cleaned fish (measured after cleaning)
  • 6 Small/pearl onions (big size) (sliced)
  • 2 medium Onion (sliced)
  • 1/4 cup Grated coconut
  • Small size 8-10 gms Tamarind (soaked in 1.5 tbsp hot water)
  • 3 Green chilli (slit legthwise)
  • 5-6 Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Whole black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 small Tomato (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp Coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup Thick coconut milk
  • 1.5 – 2 tbsp Coconut oil
  • Salt


  • Heat 2 tsp oil in a small and wide pan. Add grated coconut and sliced small/pearl onion. Cook till onion becomes soft, around 5-6 mins on low flame. Remove from fire and let cool for 10 mins. Add 1/4 cup water to this and grind to a smooth paste.
  • Crush together green chilli, garlic, whole black pepper and cumin seeds in mortar and pestle or pulse in the mixer a couple of times, till you get a coarse paste.
  • Heat the rest of the oil in a claypot (if using) or a wide and deep pan. Add sliced onion and cook till it caramelises.
  • Add kashmiri chilli, coriander and turmeric powder. Mix well and cook till the raw smell goes and oil starts appearing, around 3-4 mins on low flame.
  • Add coconut paste and add 1-2 tbsp water (rinse the mixie and use that water). Mix well. Cook for 5 mins on low flame.
  • Add crushed spices and cook till the raw smell goes , around 3-4 mins.
  • Add chopped tomato and tamarind pulp. Cook till tomato softens. Add 1 cup water to this and bring it to boil.
  • Add fish pieces and bring the gravy to boil, rotate the chatti/pan to make sure the pieces are coated well with the masala. Reduce flame to lowest. Cover and cook till fish is done, around 20 – 25 mins.
  • Add thick coconut milk gradually, rotate the chatti/pan to mix it and cook on lowest flame for 4-5 mins. add curry leaves and remove from fire.
  • Let the curry rest for 25 – 30 mins, for the flavor to settle in.
  • Serve with plain rice, Pulao or roti.


I used King fish for this recipe. You can use any meaty fish for this recipe, adjust the cooking time of the fish accordingly. The curry has a thick gravy, so adjust the consistency accordingly.
Tried this recipe? Let others know by…mentioning @mariasmenu or tagging #mariasmenu
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