Treat yourself to a delicious and flavorsome Salmon Curry! This easy and quick Indian curry is made by simmering salmon in an amazingly delicious spicy and tangy curry. Serve this salmon curry over quinoa, steamed rice or flavored rice like Ghee Rice, Jeera Rice or with flatbreads like roti, Naan, Paratha or parotta. Made in true South Indian style, this Salmon Curry uses only pantry staples like onions, tomatoes, spices and herbs. You don’t need any bottled or canned curry paste to make it.
Indian cuisine is diverse and is a reflection of various cultures and traditions. You will find every dish being made in numerous ways, with recipes varying by region, community and sometimes even by family.
This salmon curry is the way I make it at home and is not any region specific dish. I love this one particularly for the simplicity. It’s fairly healthy, minimally spiced and comes together in a flash!
For your convenience you can also make this ahead and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.
About Salmon Curry
Salmon curry is an Indian dish where pan seared salmon is cooked in a spicy and tangy curry base made with onions, tomatoes, garam masala, tamarind, herbs and coconut milk. Since this is a Southern style dish, ingredients like curry leaves, coconut milk and tamarind are used.
However if you are not accessible to these, you can still make this salmon curry by using the substitutes mentioned below.
Salmon does not absorb any flavors even if it is marinated. So I usually prepare the dish and rest it for 2 hours before serving. This is when the flavors are absorbed and enhanced.
I prefer to pan fry the salmon first until partially cooked before adding it to the simmering curry. This extra step enhances the flavor. However you can skip this step and add the raw salmon directly to the boiling curry. But I always feel this pan frying makes a huge difference.
How to make Salmon Curry (Stepwise photos)
1. Rinse salmon well under running water. I cut 1 fillet to 2 pieces. Pat it dry with a kitchen tissue.
2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. When the oil turns hot place the salmon. Sprinkle salt, turmeric, red chilli powder and garam masala. Also add the curry leaves.
3. After 2 mins, I flipped them and sprinkled the spices along with salt.
4. When they are half cooked remove to a plate along with the curry leaves.
5. To the same pan, add the rest of the oil and let it heat. Add mustard seeds. When they pop, add chopped garlic and curry leaves. Fry the garlic until a nice aroma comes out.
6. Then add onions and green chilies. Fry until they turn golden.
7. Add tomatoes, salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, garam masala and coriander powder.
8. Saute until the tomatoes turn mushy and the masala leaves the sides of the pan. Then pour water and mix.
9. I also added the tamarind water. Add only half and if needed add the rest later. Mix and cook until the onions turn completely soft.
10. The curry should thicken yet be slightly runny. Taste test and add more salt and tamarind. When the curry turned thick, I poured thin coconut milk. If using thick coconut milk, do not add it now. Instead pour it later.
11. Mix well and place the salmon pieces in the curry. Regulate the flame to lowest heat. Cover the pan and cook until the salmon is done. Pour thick coconut milk if using. Mix gently and turn off the stove. Add some coriander leaves.
Rest the curry for atleast 2 hours for best flavors. Serve salmon curry with rice, naan or roti.
Curry leaves: We love the flavor of curry leaves in this dish. So I use a generous amount of them. If you do not have then just skip them. There is no substitute for curry leaves. But add lots of fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) before finishing the dish.
Spice powders: I use garam masala and red chilli powder (ground red chilies) in this recipe. However it works pretty much the same way even if you replace them with any other curry powder. Just ensure you use a good aromatic powder.
Coconut milk: To make the salmon creamy, I have added a bit of coconut milk. Feel free to skip it or substitute with poppy seeds milk or cashew or nut milk. The curry tastes good even without any coconut milk. To make nut milk, add about 12 to 14 cashews to a grinder and make a fine powder. Pour water just enough to cover the powder and blend to a smooth thick milk.
Curry base: The base of this curry is made from scratch by sauteing onions, garlic and tomatoes. Followed by the spice powders. The dish has a chunky sauce. For a smoother gravy, you can blend the sauteed mixture.
Tamarind: Tamarind or a sour ingredient is a total game changer here. The curry should not be very tangy but should have a well balanced taste of heat, spice & tang. So add tamarind only as needed. If using tamarind concentrate start with a small quantity, as little as 1 teaspoon.
You can substitute tamarind with lemon juice or amchur powder. To use amchur, add 1 teaspoon just before finishing the dish. If using lemon juice, add 2 tablespoons when the temperature has come down a bit.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 lb salmon (400 to 500 grams)
- 2 tablespoons oil (I use coconut oil)
- ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 to 2 sprigs curry leaves (skip if you don't have)
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves chopped or crushed
- 1 large onion (1 cup fine chopped)
- 1 green chili (optional) slit
- 1 medium tomato (¼ cup chopped)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 to 1¼ teaspoon red chilli powder (plus more to sprinkle on salmon)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric (plus more to sprinkle)
- ½ teaspoon garam masala (plus more to sprinkle)
- 1 to 1¼ teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 to 2 tablespoons tamarind (or 1 teaspoon amchur, or 2 tbsps lemon juice, adjust to taste)
- 1 to 1½ cups water (use only as needed)
- ¼ to ½ cup thin coconut milk (optional)
- 2 sprigs coriander leaves
- Bring salmon to room temperature. Rinse it well under running water and pat dry with a kitchen tissue.
- If using tamarind, soak it in half cup hot water.
- Pour 1 tbsp oil to a nonstick pan and heat it.
- When the oil turns hot, place the salmon with the skin side down.
- Sprinkle 1 pinch of each – salt, red chilli powder and garam masala. Fry it for 1 to 2 mins & then carefully flip.
- Repeat sprinkling salt, red chili powder and garam masala on the other side. Add curry leaves towards the sides in the oil.
- Fry just for another 1 to 2 mins depending on the thickness of the fillet.
- Salmon should be partially cooked, not fully. Gently remove it to a plate along with crispy curry leaves and set aside.
How to Make Salmon Curry
- Pour 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and heat it.
- Add mustard seeds. When they pop, add curry leaves and garlic.
- Saute until the garlic smells fragrant.
- Then saute onions and green chilies until onions turn golden.
- Then add tomatoes, salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, garam masala and coriander powder.
- Saute all of these until tomatoes break down and the masala turns fragrant. The mixture should leave the sides of the pan as well.
- Pour 1 cup water and ¼ cup tamarind water. Mix well and cook until the onions turn completely soft. The curry should thick yet slightly be runny at this stage.
- Taste the curry and add more salt and tamarind if needed.
- Optional – Pour coconut milk and stir.
- Gently place the salmon (skin side down) and pour some of the curry over the fillets.
- Cover and cook on the lowest flame until the salmon is cooked completely. When it is done you can see the color changes. Press down the fillet gently, if done it flakes.
- Sprinkle coriander leaves. Rest the salmon curry for atleast 2 hours before serving.
- Avoid adding thick coconut milk as it can curdle.
- After adding coconut milk, avoid cooking the curry at high temperature.
- To remove the fishy smell, spray some vinegar over the fillet and rinse it. Do not let it soak up in the vinegar as it can turn mushy.
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)
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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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