Zesty Fish Curry with Coconut Milk

zesty fish curry 4

In the past week or so, I might have finished a whole bottle of cough syrup, sipped several cups of ginger tea and gulped many more glasses of homemade herbal drinks. This dry cough sucks! First, it was the jet lag and then, this dry cough; it’s been a while since I had a sound nap. The sore throat has changed my voice. Most importantly, I can hardly talk and that’s not an easy task for me.

In between all this, Arvind is showing some fake joy towards it. He seems to be enjoying the noiselessness in the house and that, according to him, is a rare situation. Wait till I get healthier, I will tell him tall tales all-day long (wink wink)! Well, truth being told, he pampers me a lot and takes extremely good care. If only he could prepare my mom’s fish curry. Now, that’s an interesting thought to discuss with him. I am not asking for too much, am I?

Ok, now let’s talk food!

Zesty Fish Curry with Coconut Milk 1

Mom’s spicy fish curry is something that I can’t even think of trying out here. It’s mainly because I won’t find those kinds of lake water fishes here. And no matter how much I try the recipe with salmon or tilapia or whatever kind of fish is available; the taste doesn’t even come close. Instead of spoiling the taste I remember, I guess it’s best to wait and relish it when I get back home. And I think its things like these that make our trip to home even more enjoyable. At times, it’s acceptable to miss a few things from back home. It gives us a way to treasure those moments later.

Zesty Fish Curry with Coconut Milk 2

This fish curry was a result of extreme need to lift up my taste buds with something spicy and tangy. My palate has gone for a toss and it genuinely needed something robust and zesty enough to boost it up! Red chili with dry roasted whole spice did the magic.

Zesty Fish Curry with Coconut Milk 3

I normally make a similar kind of dish with Thai red chili paste and coconut milk and serve it as a soup. Since there was no lemon grass at home, I improvised a little and made a chili garlic spice paste and drizzled lemon juice for the smack.

The dry red chili doesn’t add a lot of heat; it however makes the broth look rich with its color. This recipe wouldn’t give you spice thrill at the first mouthful but as you keep enjoying the gravy, it will give an after taste which is just enough warmth and zing but not burning hot!

zesty fish curry 5

Zesty Fish Curry with Coconut Milk

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes


for the chili paste

  • 7 to 8 dry red chilies
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne powder
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

rest of the ingredients

  • 2 fillets of cod, cut in bite size cubes
  • 1-1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
  • oil
  • salt


  1. In a small saucepan, pour 1/4 cup water, red chilies and bring it to a boil. Switch off the heat, cover it and let it steep for about 5 minutes.
  2. Dry roast the coriander, cumin powder and grind it to a fine powder.
  3. In a food processor or mixer, grind the red chilies along with the water and garlic.
  4. Add the freshly ground spice powder to it and give one more blend. Then, add lemon juice and keep it aside.
  5. In a pan, add 1 tablespoon oil and pan fry the cod fillet for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side and keep it aside.
  6. In a wok or a deep pan, add 1 tablespoon oil and sauté sliced onion until it’s translucent. Add some salt and the spice paste to the wok. Continue cooking in low heat, occasionally stirring in between, until the spices are cooked through and oil starts to release. This should take about 10 minutes.
  7. Add coconut milk, about 1/2 cup water and give it a stir.
  8. Add cayenne powder and half of lemon juice. Add salt and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes.
  9. Drop the pan-fried fish cubes and continue cooking for 10 more minutes. Taste for salt and add any if required. Switch off the heat once done.
  10. While serving, garnish with fresh chopped cilantro on top and drizzle more lemon juice, if you want.

Zesty Fish Curry with Coconut Milk 4

Did you enjoy this Zesty Fish Curry with Coconut Milk? Share your creation by tagging @playfulcooking on Instagram with the #playfulcooking and I will re-share in my story!

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Comments are closed.

  • Mallika
    December 5, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Beautiful Kankana. Take care of ur health and bounce back to life soon. Do hope that fish curry was a respite from ur poor palate!

  • Deepa
    December 5, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    Am sure in real He is not liking the silence …You are right some particular fishes brings out the best taste. Beautiful pics..specially the rice grains

  • Priyanka
    December 5, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    Wow sis the looks beautiful and yummy.
    Beautiful pics as always 🙂

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    December 5, 2012 at 10:05 PM

    I love curry, this looks so flavorful and comforting!

  • indugetscooking
    December 5, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    mmmm….i love fish curry with coconut milk in it….!!!

  • indugetscooking
    December 5, 2012 at 10:31 PM

    Hope your cough is better now….and you are telling tall tales to Arvind!!!! 😉

  • Rosa
    December 5, 2012 at 10:31 PM

    A beauiful cury! It must taste heavenly. Amazing clicks, as always.



  • Reem | Simply Reem
    Reem | Simply Reem
    December 5, 2012 at 11:21 PM

    You need to rest babe…
    I know this weather n crazy cough can be so frustrating…
    But this curry can do wonders right 🙂
    Take care gorgeous!! Talk to u soon.

  • Spandana
    December 5, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    Gorgeous looking curry. Lovely flavors. Take care of your health.

  • Ira Rodrigues
    Ira Rodrigues
    December 6, 2012 at 3:46 AM

    The fish curry really looks yummy, hmm…
    I hope that you recover from the cough soon! hugs

  • Nikki
    December 6, 2012 at 6:09 AM

    I’m a new subscriber and I loved your persimmon post! This one is great too! Keep up the great work and get better!

  • Wizzy
    December 6, 2012 at 7:42 AM

    I understand exactly what you mean about the fish. I can’t begin to describe how bland and tasteless I find tilapia to be. This curry is making me so hungry right now.

  • Soma
    December 6, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    It looks delicious…can’t wait to make it. I had the same cold a month ago and it took me a month and a half to get rid of that nasty dry cough. I didn’t sleep well for a month. I can totally understand the situation. On top of that I was all alone becasue my hubby was in india…what a coincidence. beautiful pictures.

  • Krithi
    December 6, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Mmm.. definitely something which I want for these rainy days!!
    Serve It – Original Recipes from Home
    Know your Sweetness – Brown Sugar

  • Tanvi@SinfullySpicy
    [email protected]
    December 6, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    I so miss river fishes here.The curries with tilapia or salmon are a sob story for me as well & its been ages since I made them. I really like the balance of flavors here in your recipe with spices & coconut milk.Looks sooo yummy!
    I hope you feel better soon, I m having my dry cough bouts too for weeks now..its difficult! take care.

  • Funwidfud
    December 6, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    Fish curry with coconut milk is definitely a delicious preparation and Moms recipe is always the best…I remember our last visit to India…Had told mom about the foods I want to eat on that visit 3 months earlier so that she could be ready with a set of pickles which was on my list..:)
    Hope you are fine now and your cold has left you with double the energy for tall tales..;)

  • Lail | With A Spin
    Lail | With A Spin
    December 6, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Hope you feel better soon. That’s one good looking fish curry!

  • Samantha
    December 7, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Jenn’s community sure has brought me to some amazing blogs. Loving your photos and this fish curry sounds (and looks) amazing! I hope you are feeling better soon!

  • audrey
    December 7, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    Hi! This looks so delicious! Do you think tilapia would be an ok substitute for the cod? Thank you!!!

    • Kankana Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      December 7, 2012 at 5:24 PM

      Sure Tilapia would work great too! Thanks for dropping by Audrey 🙂

  • Joyti
    December 7, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Such gorgeous pics!
    I hope the curry is making you feel better. I had one of those dry coughs one year – it was awful. My mom’s remedy is hot honey with black pepper. It helps soothe your throat at least.

  • Courtney
    December 7, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    I found your site from the new food photography google plus group. So glad I dropped by. This is a lovely, happy space you’ve created and your photos are gorgeous. Looking forward to seeing more!

  • Anamika | madcooking
    Anamika | madcooking
    December 9, 2012 at 3:54 AM

    Gorgeous looking curry..loved the clicks Kankana…hope you are feeling better!

  • foodwanderings
    December 9, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    Love the color you achieved in this fish curry dish. A jar of that pepper paste is always good to have. Again, am so partial to Southern Indian dishes as usual! 🙂

  • Amanda@ChewTown
    [email protected]
    December 10, 2012 at 2:56 AM

    I love a fish curry! This looks just spectacular – nice and spicy. I’m loving your blog – wonderful vibrance and style.

  • Kitchen Belleicious
    Kitchen Belleicious
    December 10, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    I love fish and curry together! It is a wonderful combination and i love that you paired it in a soup with coconut milk! DELICIOUS

  • Hungry for more
    Hungry for more
    December 11, 2012 at 6:32 AM

    Looks Wonderful! What kind of rice did you picture with the dish?

  • Nami | JOC
    Nami | JOC
    December 12, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    Fish curry, and especially in coconut milk! My friend makes a killer fish curry. I don’t remember now that if it was in coconut curry, but that was so good. I can make a milder version for my family with your recipe (my husband would prefer your spicy version!). 🙂 Gorgeous photos, Kankana~~~!

  • Poornima
    December 12, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Fabulous curry Kankana, love the rich spicy color.

  • Kiran
    December 12, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    I need this curry in my life!

  • Sandra's Easy Cookin
    Sandra's Easy Cookin
    December 13, 2012 at 7:50 AM

    Oh Kankana that looks amazing!!!! What a mouthwatering curry…yummy!!!

  • Vijitha
    December 13, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Looks super zesty for sure!

  • Tadka Pasta
    Tadka Pasta
    December 13, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    That is some curry! I’m going to make that spice paste and just add spoonfuls to everything I cook 🙂 Hope you feel better soon, Kankana!

  • Jacqueline
    December 17, 2012 at 1:53 AM

    I would say that perfect fish curry is just the remedy to pick you up. Bold flavours – just up my street. Hope you are feeling better Kankana.

  • Aunt Clara
    Aunt Clara
    December 23, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    We have a tradicional recipe that is, in concept, similar to this one. Of course the only way to make it better is to make it spicy.

    Have I told you I love coconut and spicy food?

    I have all the ingredients at hand, so I will try it this week and report back to you.

  • Willow
    March 3, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    This soup looks gorgeous! I love curries like this, and the bright red color really is eye-catching. I have a question regarding the recipe, though. Did you use full-fat coconut milk (from a can) or coconut milk from a carton/jug? At first I thought canned, but I ask because it’s hard for me to imagine the soup turning out so bright and colorful (as opposed to milky looking). Thanks in advance!

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