Rustic style Deccan Fish Curry

There are fish curries and then there are more fish curries!!! Since this is my first post with a fish curry, I was keen to start with a simple recipe that is easy for any newcomer using basic ingredients from your kitchen. There are fish curries with ground onion tomato paste, ground coconut paste as well as milder curries made with coconut milk too.

This is a recipe from the south of India, where the fish is simmered in a no-coconut spicy tangy red curry, that relies on the heavenly aroma of fresh curry leaves & coriander, tangy tamarind pulp, pungent garlic paste & the zing of red chilli powder to lend it a fabulous piquancy. You can always tweak the spice to your palate by cutting out the green chillies entirely or add a dash of coconut milk at the end if you prefer it milder. But I will be showing you the original tangy, spicy version that will most certainly excite your taste buds.

Cooking fish & meat curries in clay pots that have been pre-seasoned with oil over 2-3 days brings out a completely unique & rustic flavour to such curries & hence the picture. However here I have cooked it in my regular saucepan.

Indian cuisine is filled with the goodness of natural spices & herbs that are said to work wonders in building immunity, healing the body as well as specific potent antiseptic properties. Turmeric, pepper, ginger, aniseed, cumin seed, caraway seed, asafoetida, onions, coriander & curry leaves are just a handful of these blessed natural spices & aromatics.

We are all aware of the antiseptic & healing properties of:

Turmeric which is today known as a superfood and consumed in various forms including latte and desserts. However it has been used in Indian cooking down several centuries in almost every curry, gravy or dry vegetable. In fact, even today, it is applied directly on wounds & cuts along with coconut oil for quick healing.

Tamarind is one of the main heroes in this curry, a very popular ingredient in South Indian cooking along with red chillies. If you look carefully below, I have put in a little picture of fresh tamarind as it is found in its raw form off the tree, a light green pulp found inside the brown bark of the fruit.  This is then dried out and processed before it is ready for use. Tamarind has a variety of health benefits and is said to aid in digesting spicy, rich food, a mild and safe laxative, an anti-helminthic that helps get rid of worms & even its seeds are powdered and used as an anti-inflammatory local application on joints.

Curry leaves too are a very popular ingredient in South Indian cooking that are said to help in digestion and other related tummy ailments by stimulating stomach enzymes. They are rich in iron, calcium, vitamin A,B,C & B2, and are also said to help in maintaining cholesterol levels & thereby aid in weight loss issues.

Anti-oxidant rich Garlic, another popular staple ingredient in Indian cooking is in fact said to contain compounds with various potent medicinal properties, more specifically known to have an impact on controlling blood pressure, lowering cholesterol & boost the functioning of our immune system & keeping the doctor away!

Coriander/cilantro seeds, powder as well as fresh coriander leaves are a part of every Indian dish because apart from adding a fresh earthy flavour to the food, they help in aiding digestion & gut health, are full of immune-boosting anti- oxidants, said to fight infections & even help in lowering cholesterol & blood sugar quite effectively as per some research.

So cheers to our wonderful natural plant based medicinal world & do enjoy making the fish curry as shown in the video below!

Recipe for Rustic style Deccan Fish Curry

Ingredients (Serves 6)

1 kilo Kingfish or Seer, sliced /Murrel or any fish of your choice

To marinate

½ teaspoon turmeric powder/haldi

½ teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder

For the curry

2 tablespoons oil

3 medium onions (finely sliced)

Salt to taste

1inch ginger ground into a paste

2 teaspoons garlic paste

½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder, or to your taste

½ teaspoon turmeric powder / haldi

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

2-3 green chillies (deseed them if you prefer it less spicy)

2-3 tablespoons tamarind pulp

1 medium tomato, pureed

1 stalk fresh curry leaves

1 handful fresh coriander leaves (chopped)

½ teaspoon coriander powder/ sambar masala if available

Salt to taste

2-3 cups water


  1. Wash the fish slices well & marinate for 30 minutes with salt, chilli powder and turmeric powder.
  2. Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds & mustard seeds & allow them to splutter.
  3. Add the sliced onions & fry lightly until translucent.
  4. Add the green chillies & sauté them lightly.
  5. Add the ginger and garlic paste and sauté for 2-3 minutes with 1 tablespoon of water to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.
  6. Once the raw smell has disappeared, add the tomato puree and salt, ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder and ½ teaspoon garam masala / sambar powder if available.
  7. Add the tamarind pulp & 2 cups water.
  8. Add the curry leaves and fresh coriander & allow it to boil for a minute.
  9. Gently add in the marinated fish slices & simmer on a slow flame for 1 minute.
  10. Add 2 cups water & cook on a medium flame till the fish is cooked and the curry has thickened.
  11. Cover with a lid & switch off the flame. Let it rest for 5-8 minutes before serving to allow the flavours & spices to come through.
  12. Serve with plain hot steamed rice (brown or white) and some roasted poppadums.


You can always cook the fish curry ahead of time & cover to rest it. This allows the flavours of the spices, aromatics & fish to come through beautifully.

Heat it once again just before serving.

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