Kerala Fish Curry


Kerala Fish Curry by Ashley of

This Kerala fish curry comes to you from the Malabar coast – it’s flavorful, slightly spicy, and it features two ingredients that are aplenty in the South Indian state of Kerala: fish and coconut. The spiced creamy coconut sauce in this Kerala fish curry is so full of flavor! You can serve this with matta rice, or if you can’t get your hands on that type of rice, basmati rice works too!

What is Kerala Fish Curry?

I learned how to make this fish stew from my mom-in-law, a marvelous cook who makes incredible Keralite food. I’m always amazed by the flavors in this type of food – it’s so different from the North Indian food I grew up eating (e.g., butter chicken, shami kebab, sarson ka saag). Just goes to show, “Indian food” is far more diverse than most realize.

If you’re familiar with this Keralite dish, you may notice that this recipe is very similar to a dish known as meen moilee (pronounced “Molly”), the main difference being that for this dish, we’re cooking the fish in the stew, whereas with meen moilee, the fish is first shallow fried and then put into the stew. You can always take that extra step, if you’d like.

For this stew, we prefer to use wild-caught rockfish. In Kerala though, they typically use karimeen, which is also known as pearlspot fish. You can use any type of fish – just make sure it’s a firm, meaty fish because otherwise, it’ll fall apart in the curry.

Kerala Fish Curry by Ashley of

While this stew is easy enough to make any time, I typically reserve it for special occasions. It’s a staple at our Easter brunch (along with honey ham, biryani, and beef croquettes). These are some photos from Easter at my husband’s house (he’s wearing the bunny ears, you can’t miss him lol). You can’t see the fish stew, but I assure you, we ate some that day, haha.

Kerala Fish Curry by

This Kerala fish stew is a light, yet filling dish. It’s perfect for spring or summer. I hope you love it so much that it becomes part of your holiday celebrations too. 🙂

Kerala Fish Curry by Ashley of

Kerala Fish Curry

Kerala Fish Curry by Ashley of

Kerala Fish Curry

5 from 9 reviews
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  • 2 pounds of Rockfish or another firm white fish , cut into large chunks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric

To make Curry:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 medium red onions thinly sliced
  • 12 pearl onions cut in half
  • 40 small curry leaves divided
  • 2 Serrano peppers slit but intact
  • ½ inch knob ginger minced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 ½ cans of coconut milk full-fat, divided
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Optional garnish: cashews sauteed in coconut oil or ghee


  • Marinate fish with salt and turmeric. Set aside for now.
  • Melt coconut oil in a sauté pan over medium heat, then saute the onions, pearl onions, 20 curry leaves, Serrano peppers. Sauté for 15 minutes, or until the onions turn brown.
  • Add the ginger and spices (black pepper, salt, turmeric). Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Remove half of this mixture and set aside for garnish.
  • Add the fish, 1 can of coconut milk, ¼ cup of water and the remaining curry leaves. Cook for 2 minutes, then cover the pan with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the remaining ½ can of coconut milk and the apple cider vinegar to the pan. Continue cooking until the fish is done.
  • Garnish with the onion mixture that you set aside earlier, then serve.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. Kristin Hawes says

    5 stars
    Made this last night and it was delicious! We didn’t have curry leaves so I threw in a couple of bay leaves -certain it would be even better with curry leaves, so will ensure I have on hand next time. Also added a couple of handfuls of spinach at the end for extra color pop and nutritional boost. A great weeknight dinner.

  2. Renee Davis says

    My husband and I were so blessed to spend 3 weeks in India a few years ago and Kerala was my absolute favorite place as we did the overnight houseboat. It was just magical and ALL the food was amazing there so I can’t wait to try this and your other recipes. I’ve been following you for years and you never disappoint!! Thank you so much for sharing. :-). PS. Curious if you have ever tried the MOTHER brand of Indian seasoning pouches from Indian market. Are they clean enough for Paleo? The Kerala Prawns was so good that my hubby asked for it again 2 days later, was great for a quick and easy meal.

    • My Heart Beets says

      Renee, that is wonderful! And thank you – happy to hear you like my recipes 🙂 I haven’t tried that brand – I typically use 24 Mantra, Simply Organic or Pure Indian Foods for spices. I hope you’ll let me know what other recipes you try from my blog!

  3. Shameem A says

    wow… this is something like a stew that we normally see in Christian’s functions..something which worth trying….

  4. BEE says

    5 stars
    My son loves this!! I make it with rockfish and sometimes shrimp. I omit the peppers as he doesn’t like spicy food. We have this with rose Matta. Thank you for this.

  5. aa says

    5 stars
    This is probably one of the most stunning curry recipes I’ve ever made. I don’t know why this doesn’t show up at the top of any Google search, but it is one of the few recipes I share with everyone. I can’t believe curry leaves make this much of a difference, but bravo on this gem of a recipe.

  6. Abhinav says

    5 stars
    I tried this recipe at home this recipe awesome recipe. And my family member like this recipe. Thank U Ashley

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