Zesty Fish Curry with Coconut Milk

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 with Coconut Milk

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Author: Kankana Saxena


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


  • 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.
  • Dry roast the coriander, cumin powder and grind it to a fine powder.
  • In a food processor or mixer, grind the red chilies along with the water and garlic.
  • Add the freshly ground spice powder to it and give one more blend. Then, add lemon juice and keep it aside.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Add coconut milk, about 1/2 cup water and give it a stir.
  • Add cayenne powder and half of lemon juice. Add salt and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes.
  • 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.
  • While serving, garnish with fresh chopped cilantro on top and drizzle more lemon juice, if you want.


Serving: 1Servings

Zesty Fish Curry with Coconut Milk 5

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Comments are closed.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Vijitha
    December 13, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Looks super zesty for sure!

  • 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!!!

  • Kiran
    December 12, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    I need this curry in my life!

  • Poornima
    December 12, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Fabulous curry Kankana, love the rich spicy color.

  • 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~~~!

  • 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?

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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! 🙂

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

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

  • 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!