This Goan fish curry is really easy to make, packed with flavor & spice, and ready in less than 30 minutes. A delicious dish that’s way better than take out.
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I have a few cookbooks which I dip in to now and then when I have a few minutes to breathe. I used to use them much more, but these days it’s more occasional inspiration or for the details on favorites. A couple are favorite writers, others are from particular regions, and I know pretty much what I’ll find in each.
I’ve been meaning to make another fish curry for a while, and so when it was announced this month’s Fish Friday Foodies’ theme was going to be Indian fish curry, it was the perfect excuse. I went straight for my Indian cookbook and after a little debate, I decided to try a Goan fish curry.
What defines a Goan fish curry?
India has a large stretch of coastline and so fish is common in the cuisines of these areas. There are definite regional variations in the flavors used, although some spices are common, as is coconut milk.
Goan fish curries are generally made with:
- coconut milk (or freshly grated coconut),
- a range of common curry spices and
- something to give a distinct slight sourness, usually from tamarind but it can be vinegar or other ingredients.
Part of this hot-sour flavor comes from incorporating Portuguese influences (the use of wine/vinegar or similar in cooking) into the more typical Indian flavors. Goa has a diverse history with a good 450 years under Portuguese rule, which has influenced the flavors of the region’s cuisine.
This curry was a little too spicy for the kids, so I made a kid-friendly salmon curry for them, but we instantly loved it, and have had it many times since.
It’s full of wonderful spiced flavor, in a creamy coconut sauce with a slight tang from the tamarind. It’s quick and easy enough to be great for a busy night as well. Forget take out, this Goan fish curry is so much better both flavor-wise and it’s healthier.
How to make Goan fish curry
I’ve adapted a few recipes to give something that was fairly authentic without being overly complex. While it might look like there are a lot of ingredients, this Goan fish curry is really easy to make.
The long list is mainly for the spice mix, or masala, which gives it so much depth of flavor. The steps to make it are:
- You make the masala first, by toasting the whole spices, crushing them along with the garlic and ginger then mix in the rest.
- Soften the onion a little then add the masala and mix.
- Next, add some tomato and fresh chili, then the coconut milk and tamarind.
- Finally add the fish to cook in the flavorful sauce in only a few minutes.
What kind of fish is best?
There are a few options on fish for this dish. Typically you might see it with pomfret, a flat fish, in India but that’s not something I have ever seen here.
Although you add it towards the end so it doesn’t have too long to break up, I’d still recommend a relatively firm white fish. I typically use haddock and it works really well.
There is so much flavor in this Goan fish curry that comes together so quickly and easily. Creamy coconut, enough spice without being over the top, and plenty of depth of flavor. It’s definitely going back on our menu soon, and I hope it will go on yours too.
Interested in learning more about Indian cooking?
I have a number of other Indian recipes on the site such as mains like:
- lamb rogan josh,
- paneer Makhani (made with and paneer, a firm cheese)
- keema matar (made with ground beef)
Remember to pin this for later.
Goan fish curry
For the spice paste/masala
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 – 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger (approx a 1in/2.5cm piece)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 green chilis
- 1 onion
- 1 tomato
- 1 lb haddock 450g or use cod, pollock or other firm white fish
- 2 tsp tamarind concentrate
- 1 cup coconut milk 240ml
- Warm a small skillet/frying pan over a medium heat and toast the whole spices (coriander, cumin and mustard seeds) for a couple minutes until fragrant. The mustard seeds may start to pop which is a sign to stop.
- Roughly chop the garlic and ginger and crush with the salt to a relatively smooth paste. Add the toasted spices and crush. Add the remaining powdered spices and mix to a relatively smooth paste.
- Finely dice the chilis and onion. Dice the tomato. Warm the oil in a medium-large skillet or other shallow pan over a medium heat.
- Cook the onion in the oil for a few minutes until it has softened. Add the spice paste and stir through. Cook for a minute or two then add the tomato and chili and let the liquid almost disappear (a minute).
- Cut the fish into large bite-sized chunks.
- Add the tamarind and coconut milk to the pan, mix through. then put the fish chunks in and cook until cooked through, a couple mins.
- Serve over rice.
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