Fish Curry Recipe

Updated: January 25, 2023, By Swasthi

This Fish Curry is satisfying, nutritious and packed with a burst of Indian flavors. Onions, tomatoes, spices & herbs enrich the taste & aroma of this Fish curry that is sure to delight the entire family. Chapati, roti, Naan or a bowl of steaming hot rice with this Fish Masala is comfort food at its best!

Fish curry

About Fish Curry

Fish curry is a staple in a lot of Asian countries and is made in various ways using different locally available ingredients like coconut, poppy seeds, tamarind etc. In this post I show you how to make it the easiest way with the most basic ingredients – the panty staples.

The coastal cuisines of India are incomplete without a delicious Fish Curry. Traditionally fresh caught fish were cleaned, minimally spiced & cooked in clay cookware that would impart delicious flavors.

My Recipe

This fish curry is made much the same traditional way by sautéing onions, ginger garlic, tomatoes & ground spices. Later this onion tomato masala is simmered to cook down the ingredients & bring out the flavors.

Marinated fish is seared on a pan and then cooked briefly in the prepared curry.

A lot of people add the fish directly to the simmering curry. But we personally prefer to marinate and sear first as this cuts down the fishy smell. Though this step is optional I highly recommend this if you are new to seafood curries & stews.

I prefer to blend the onion tomato masala to give the curry/gravy a thicker texture with superior flavors. This is what makes this dish the best!

This recipe uses a small amount of coconut. You can use fresh grated or frozen coconut or coconut milk. If you don’t consume coconut, you may simply leave out that or substitute with cashews.

This recipe is easily adaptable & you can play around with the ingredients. If you love tamarind in your Fish curry, feel free to add some while you make the curry. You can also squeeze some lemon juice before serving. To use amchur, add it at the finishing stage.

More Fish Recipes
Salmon Rice Bowl
Fish Pulusu
Salmon Curry
Fish Biryani
Fish Fry
Tandoori Salmon

Ingredients & Substitutes

Fish: While you can make a fish curry with any kind of firm flesh fish, I would suggest to use something you love. Because everyone has their own favourite fish and you may not compromise on that. The following fishes are a good choice and go well in a curry.

(Spanish mackerel or King mackerel)
Mahi mahi
Pompano/ pomfret
Seer fish

Ginger garlic paste is nothing but ground ginger and garlic in equal quantities. If you don’t have that, you can simply use them in minced or grated form. You can make it following my recipe here – ginger garlic paste or use a store bought paste. There is no substitute to this. However you may use dried ginger and garlic powder at the finishing stage.

Curry leaves impart a unique flavor to the dish. Do not use dried curry leaves. It is okay not to use them or simply use a Indian bay leaf.

Garam Masala is an Indian spice blend that is easily available in Asian stores. I do not have a recommended brand for that because I make my own following this recipe – Garam masala. It is important to use a flavorsome masala as it is the key ingredient that flavors your dish.

Fennel seeds are my favourite spice as it adds natural sweet tones and balances the pungent flavors of the other spices. You may skip if you don’t have.

Coconut milk: If you like more coconut flavors in your curry, add as much coconut milk as you want but note that it brings down the flavors. So increase the garam masala and other spices proportionately.

Photo Guide

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 .


12. 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

13. 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

14. 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

15. 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
Mutton curry
Chicken curry
Chicken korma
Prawn curry

Fish curry recipe

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Recipe Card

fish curry recipe

Fish Curry Recipe | Indian Fish Masala

4.99 from 581 votes
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 )


  • 1.1 lbs (½ kg) Fish (any firm fish)
  • ½ tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • tsp turmeric
  • ¼ to ½ tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
  • ¼ tsp salt or as needed

To saute & puree

  • 1 tbsp oil (adjust as needed)
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 2 medium onions sliced about 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 Kashmiri 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)
  • 1¼ to 1½ 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. Taste test the paste and add more chilli powder at this stage if you want more heat or more deeper color.
  • Saute until the mixture smells good.
  • 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.

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Fish Curry Recipe | 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

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. More about me

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5 stars
I have made dozens of your recipes and I think this is your best one

5 stars
Great recipe! Can you explain the cashew nuts and what step you would use this in? I’m guessing instead of coconut milk you would blend the cashews in with the cooled ingredients to make a more creamy sauce?

5 stars
Wonderful fish recipe. Made this at a gathering and everyone liked it. Thanks for sharing this

4 stars
Your recipe invoked childhood memories, when my neighbour cooked her fish curries, and she always told me ” you must fry fish first- very important lah!”

So, it was no surprise, that I knew your recipe, would be absolutely delicious, coupled with the simple ingredients you used

I choose Barramundi fish, as the flesh is thick and firm, and has sufficient oil, under its skin ,

The aroma in my kitchen was Devine, and there was no fishy smell.

Going to leave it overnight, for the flavours to” marry “each other, before I devour it .

I know it is going to a hit.

Nice simple recipe.

5 stars
Swasthi’s recipes have always been our family go to recipe book— almost all your recipes we have done. Adding fenugreek seeds + Cummin seeds to make sambar is a unique idea.

5 stars
So i dont have time to do all the steps due to kids, so i just fried up the onions and fish then put all the other ingredients in with coconut milk instead of water both lots and let it simmer while the rice is cooking , and i think it still came out YUM YUM YUMMY .
Will definitely be making it again ,

5 stars
Swasthi Shreekanth’s is the best curry recipe I have ever tasted! I did find it took much longer than the stated 40 minutes, but maybe I am just slow as there are many ingredients to assemble. I served this over brown rice and everyone loved it! I would have like to have 2 or 3 vegetables included besides the onions and tomatoes and will try to add some in next time.

5 stars
Delicious recipe!

5 stars
Thanks Swasthi. The curry turned out yummy. I added some tamarind juice too when the curry came to a boil. It enhances the flavour for those who like their fish curry more tangy.

5 stars
Loved this recipe, added in some garlic marinated prawns to increase the quantity and it was great. As I used coconut milk I didn’t bother to put it in the blender and that was fine. Do you have a cook book out by any chance?

Hi I’m about to make your fish curry but I’m a little confused about the ginger garlic. Do you mean 1/2 tbsp of ginger and garlic, or 1/2 tbsp combined (1/4 tbsp each)? Thank you!

5 stars
Simple and amazing!

5 stars
Tasty! We enjoyed this – I made it with fish, prawns and cauliflower

Will this be good with Idli Swasthi?

5 stars
Easy to prepare and yummy.

5 stars
Yum! As all of Swasthi’s recipes are

5 stars
Wow so nice

5 stars
Adding tamarind juice enhances the flavour. I prepared according to your receipe. The curry was Yumm. Thanks Swasti

Can you please share exact measurements because I cannot use the recipe without it. The recipe is great but once I can get exact measurements I know how to make it.

5 stars
Beautiful recipe, I added some cooked king prawns went well