fish curry

Fish Curry Recipe

By Swasthi on September 1, 2022, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Fish curry made with fresh fish, onions, tomatoes, coconut, spices and herbs. Make the easiest, delicious and flavorsome fish curry with my easy step by step recipe. Also known as Indian fish masala it is a sea food lovers’ favorite. Fish curry is a staple in a lot of Asian countries and is made in various ways using many different locally available ingredients like coconut, poppy seeds, tamarind etc. This post shows you make it with the most basic ingredients – the panty staples.

Fish curry

While you can make a fish curry with any kind of fish available, river water fish also known as freshwater fish is the best as they go well in a curry. I know a lot of us don’t have access to freshwater fishes but trust me they make a lot of difference to a curry.

I have already shared my mom’s fish pulusu made with tamarind, which is a specialty of the Andhra cuisine. But the recipe shared in this post is way different from that and is made in a onion tomato base.

This fish curry tastes best with plain steamed rice, flavored rice like jeera rice, ghee rice or with roti, paratha and naan.

How To Make Fish Curry (Stepwise Photos)

Make Masala Paste

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add cumin and allow to splutter. Then add onions & saute until golden.

frying onions for fish curry recipe

2. Add ginger garlic and fry for 30 to 60 seconds. When they turn fragrant, add tomatoes and half tsp salt.

frying tomatoes for fish curry recipe

3. Fry until the raw smell goes away.

onion tomato masala for fish gravy recipe

4. Add coconut, red chili powder, turmeric and fennel seeds (optional).

coconut chili salt to make fish curry recipe

5. Fry everything well until the onion masala smells good. Ensure the raw smell has gone. Cool this completely.

frying masala

Prepare Fish

6. This one and next step are optional. Marinate fish with red chili powder, turmeric, very little salt and ginger garlic paste. Do not leave this marinated fish aside, just fry them right away.

marinating fish

7. Heat a pan with 1 tsp oil, fry the fish until the raw smell of the ginger garlic paste has gone. You can use the same pan used to fry the onions, I used a different one since I used a steel pan. Set this aside.

sauteing fish in oil

8. Add the cooled ingredients to a blender jar along with 2 to 4 tbsps of water.

making spice paste

9. Blend to a coarse or smooth paste to suit your taste. We prefer coarse texture in our curry so I made a coarse paste. If you prefer a smooth texture, make a smooth paste.

making ground masala for fish curry recipe

How to Make Fish Curry

10. Add another tbsp. oil & heat on a low flame. When the oil turns slightly hot, add curry leaves and green chilies.

11. When the leaves splutter, add the ground paste. Mix everything well .


13. Sprinkle garam masala and salt. You can add more red chilli powder at this stage to adjust the heat. I added a bit more. Fry everything well until the masala smells good.

addition of chilli powder

14. Pour 1 ¼ cup water and mix well to make lump free gravy. You may need to adjust the amount of water slightly.

addition of water for fish curry recipe

15. On a medium flame boil until the oil begins to separate and the gravy thickens. This may take about 5 mins. Check the salt and spice now. Adjust any taste that is needed. If you like to use tamarind, you can soak some tamarind in hot water. Extract and filter the juice to the gravy. We do not prefer tamarind so i have not used, the sourness from tomatoes is good enough.

simmering fish gravy

16. Add the fish pieces to the gravy and cook for few mins. Flip them and cook until they bulge, meaning they are cooked completely. If desired garnish with coriander leaves.

addition of pieces in fish curry

Serve fish curry with rice or chapathi.

fish masala curry

More Indian curry recipes
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Chicken curry
Chicken korma
Prawn curry

Fish curry recipe

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Recipe Card

fish curry recipe

Fish Curry | Indian Fish Masala

Simple fish curry made in Indian style. Mildly spicy, flavorful and delicious tasting fish curry. Serve it with rice or roti.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )


  • 500 grams Fish (half kg)
  • ½ tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • tsp turmeric
  • ¼ to ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp salt or as needed

To saute & puree

  • 1 tbsp oil (adjust as needed)
  • ½ tsp cumin (or jeera)
  • 2 medium onions sliced or 1 cup sliced
  • ½ tbsp ginger garlic minced or paste
  • 2 medium tomatoes ripe (¾ to 1 cup chopped)
  • ½ tsp salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust as needed)
  • tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds (optional) (saunf)
  • 2 tbsp coconut (grated or ¼ cup coconut milk or 12 cashew nuts)

For curry

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 sprig curry leaves or small bay leaf
  • 1 to 2 green chili (chopped or slit)
  • 1 to 1 ½ tsp garam masala or curry powder as needed (refer notes)
  • 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cup water



  • Marinate fish with ½ tbsp ginger garlic paste, ⅛ tsp turmeric, ¼ tsp red chilli powder & ¼ tsp salt.
  • On a flat fry pan, heat 1 tsp oil. Fry fish pieces slightly until the raw smell goes away just for 2 to 3 mins on both sides. You can also sear the fish. Keep this aside. (refer picture below)
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pot and add cumin. When they sputter, add onions and saute until lightly golden.
  • Next add ginger garlic paste and saute for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes & ½ tsp salt. Saute until tomatoes turn soft and mushy.
  • Next add coconut, fennel seeds (optional), red chili powder & turmeric. Fry until the mixture turns fragrant & raw smell has gone away.
  • Cool this & add to a blender jar along with 2 to 4 tbsps water. Blend to a smooth or coarse paste to suit your liking. (refer notes). You can also use a immersion blender. Keep this aside.

How to Make Fish Curry

  • Add 1 tbsp more oil to the same pot used earlier. Heat up on a low flame.
  • When the oil turns slightly hot, add curry leaves & green chilies.
  • When they splutter, add the ground onion tomato paste and garam masala. Fry until the mixture smells good. If you feel it is not hot enough for your taste, then add more chilli powder at this stage & saute.
  • Pour 1 ¼ to 1½ cup water. Mix and bring it to a boil. Cook until you see traces of oil on the surface and the gravy thickens a bit.
  • Gently slide the fish pieces and cook covered on a medium heat.
  • Carefully flip or turn the pieces to the other side after 3 to 4 mins.
  • Cook until the fish pieces bulge a bit. This is the indication they are cooked completely. Taste the curry and add more salt if needed.
  • Optionally garnish fish curry with coriander leaves if desired.


If you prefer a smoother gravy, then blend the paste to a smooth texture adding more water as needed. For a coarse gravy, blend it coarse.
The kind of garam masala to use depends on ones choice of the gravy. Some folks do not prefer strong garam masala as they like to keep the fish flavour dominant. But we use a stronger garam masala. Also do adjust the quantity of masala to suit your taste.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Fish Curry | Indian Fish Masala
Amount Per Serving
Calories 309 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 83mg28%
Sodium 171mg7%
Potassium 673mg19%
Carbohydrates 11g4%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 35g70%
Vitamin A 425IU9%
Vitamin C 22.3mg27%
Calcium 43mg4%
Iron 1.8mg10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

fish curry
Fish Curry Recipe

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.

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When the recipe asks for cumin, Are you adding cumin powder or cumin seeds? Looks very delicious can’t wait to try.

5 stars
Made this exactly as your instructions – absolutely fantastic flavours ☺️👍👏

5 stars
I made this with sockeye salmon. I also added a few mustard seeds with the cumin and used the tamarind for a little extra sourness. Even though I didn’t have curry leaves, it turned out delicious. Better than my local restaurant. My friend from India loved it as well.

5 stars
My family is hooked on this recipe. In two weeks I have made it five times. My son who never ate fish at home, keeps raving about it. I follow the recipe as such and it is awesome every time, says my family.
Over past two years, I have learned that if I need an Indian recipe, this is the only website I need to look at.

5 stars
I have been making this recipe for a few years now and I can’t emphasize enough how good it turns out each time. I get compliments always. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

5 stars
Thank you very much!!! My friends think I am an expert cook thanks to your recipes and this one gets top rank for its taste. Never thought fish curry can taste better without tamarind!!

5 stars
I stumbled upon this recipe quite recently….and I have made it some 10 times. This fool proof delicacy has never let me down.
Try and enjoy

5 stars
Thank you so much for this! It rivals the fish curry that a store sells near where I live! First time i try making fish curry and its just perfect! I omitted the coconut & cashewnuts and just added extra crushed canned tomatoes because it’s all I had. Love all your recipes!!

5 stars
mouth watering, soon will try this

When to add coconut milk ? ND how much ? Please reply.

I live in South America and don’t have curry leaves or green chili. Is there anything I can substitute or is it better to just leave them out? Thanks

5 stars
Hi Swasthi,
You are amazing! all of your recipes turn out beautifully and my kids are well feed because of you.
Thank you so much!

Hey, this recipe looks delicious! I don’t have access to great freshwater fish so wondered of something like halibut or monkfish would work as I’ve used them in stews in the past with good results?

can I use coley fish for this recipe

5 stars
Tasty and easy to make. Thank you.

5 stars
Hi Swasthi, I love all your recipes! One more than the next! Your website is really a delight! Would cod fish work for this recipe? Also, if I want to use cashew nuts instead of coconut, at what stage should I add them? Thanks so much!

5 stars
I have been trying out Swasthi’s recipe off-late and all are just fool-proof. This fish curry is priceless!

5 stars
Tried this today and family loved it

What kind of fish???

5 stars
Great recipe! Made a little twist by adding 1/2 tsp of sugar to the curry and after the curry was cooked and taken off the fire I sprinkled some cilantro leaves and covered the pot till it was time to eat!!!

Hi, will be trying this today. But I would like to use defrosted frozen fish. Do you think that will work? Any tips? Has anyone tried with frozen fish before?