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Keralan Fish Curry

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This recipe is everything you want from your tin of coconut milk; warming, soothing…with really exotic sour flavours due to the tamarind paste. I’ve made this dozens of times and it’s always delicious.  The recipe originally came from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer, and you can use any variety of white fish, or prawns.

Nigella says her version serves 4-6, but I think that would only work if you were cooking another curry as well – the portions will be very small. This version will do a main course-sized curry for two.  The sauce can be prepared well in advance and you can add the fish at the last minute if that makes things easier for you.  Nigella also suggests adding water to the sauce, but I think it’s much nicer if it’s creamy.


  • 2 fillets firm white fish, or two large handfuls of prawns
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 medium onion, halved and chopped into thin half-moon shapes
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, about2 inches
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • Pinch of ground cumin
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Chop the fish into pieces and place in a bowl with one teaspoon of turmeric, rubbing the spice into the fish.
  2. Soften the onions in the oil, with a little pinch of salt to stop them burning.
  3. Cut the chillies into slices, and either cut the ginger into matchstick sized pieces or grate it roughly.  Add both to the onions along with the cumin and turmeric, and fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add in the coconut milk and fish sauce.
  5. Add tamarind to taste.  Nigella suggest 2 tablespoons but that might be a bit sour for some tastes – start with a small amount, taste and gradually add more.
  6. When you are ready to eat, add the fish and cook for a few minutes until the fish is cooked through.

Buying Tips

When you’re buying coconut milk, I think the Asian supermarkets are the best place to go.  Their Cock brand (heh heh) is very good and usually only around €1.  I got some coconut milk in Lidl last weekend for 69c, so will have to see how that goes.  Peter swears blind that Thai Gold’s organic coconut milk is horrible.  What’s your favourite?

Tamarind paste can be bought in most Asian supermarkets and will keep for a long time in the fridge.

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