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.
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.
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. 🙂
- 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.