Go Back Email Link
+ servings
red Kerala fish curry Kottayam style
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Simple and Delicious Kerala Fish Curry [Kottayam-Style]

Ready in under half an hour, this traditional South Indian curry bursts with flavor, yet uses very few ingredients.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten Free
Servings: 4 portions
Calories: 234kcal
Author: Elle John


  • 300 g Cod Fillet Skinless and Boneless
  • 4 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Ginger Peeled and Chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Garlic Peeled and Chopped
  • 2 Onions Peeled and Sliced
  • 2 Dried Red Chillies
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Red Chilli
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Kashmiri Chilli
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon Black Pepper Ground or Crushed
  • 20 Curry Leaves
  • 3 Pieces Malabar Tamarind
  • Water
  • Salt to Taste


  • Soak the fish tamarind in 3 cups of warm water and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan or claypot [earthen pot], add the coconut oil and heat it up on medium high heat. Once warm, bring the flame down to low, then add the mustard seeds, and the fenugreek seeds.
  • Once these splatter, add the fresh ginger and garlic, the onions, and red chilies.
  • Add some salt, mix, and allow the ingredients to cook on medium-low heat until the onions become soft and lightly golden brown on the edges. This will take approximately 5-7 minutes.
  • Next, add the dry spices [red chili powder, ground Kashmiri chili, ground coriander, ground turmeric], black pepper, and curry leaves to the pan. Mix well and allow to cook until the spices separate from the oil and are aromatic. This will take 2-3 minutes.
  • Add some water to the curry and mix to achieve a smooth yet semi-thick paste, then add the soaking water from the tamarind and one piece of the dried fruit. Mix well once more and bring to a light simmer.
  • Once the curry simmers, reduce the flame to low again.
  • Lastly, add the pieces of fish and ensure they are covered with gravy, adding some more water if necessary. Let the curry simmer until the fish is cooked and the gravy thickens. This should take 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the slices of fish.
  • Should you have time, allow the curry to rest and, before reheating and serving, remove the piece of tamarind.
  • Serve hot with basmati rice, parathas, chapati, kappa, or appam.


How to store Kerala fish curry
  • In the fridge: This fish curry can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days.
  • In the freezer: This Kerala fish curry can be stored in the freezer in a suitable container for up to three months. Allow to thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat thoroughly before serving.
Tips and Tricks
  • Should you not have coconut oil, then any unflavored oil can be used instead. As the flavor of the coconut is important in this Kottayam-style curry, add some coconut milk or cream instead of part of the water when cooking the fish.
  • Any white fish can be used for this curry, so the cod can be substituted easily. Good options are tilapia, king fish, haddock, sardines, or mackarel.
  • All the mixing of the fish curry needs to be done before adding the pieces of fish. Once the fish is added to the fish curry, you will want to ensure it is covered in gravy, and allow it to simmer slowly until fully cooked, so as to avoid it getting broken in small pieces.
  • It is important that once the flavors mature in the curry, this is removed from it, as it may become too strong. Should you have time, once the fish curry is ready, allow it to rest for 3-4 hours, then reheat and remove.


Calories: 234kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 111mg | Potassium: 538mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1475IU | Vitamin C: 106mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 2mg