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A South Indian recipe for Kerala Fish made with fragrant Indian spices, curry leaves and tamarind that can be roasted in the oven or grilled on the BBQ. Serve this with Raita and Indian Lemon Rice!
Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it.~Rabindranath Tagore
Oh my goodness, this fish! So much flavor happening here, friends! It hails from Southern India on the western coast and really packs a punch. If you love bold flavors and love fish, this recipe is for you.
Served with Indian lemon Rice, it is the perfect combination.
What is Kerala Fish?
- Kerala is a coastal state on the Malabar Coast the southwestern edge of India. Here, fish and seafood play a more significant role in Indian cuisine (which is traditionally vegetarian) due to its proximity to the ocean.
- Kerala Fish is most often prepared in coconut-based stews and curries. Sometimes it’s fried.
- This recipe is a little twist on traditional Kerala “Fish Fry” utilizing the oven or grill.
Kerala Fish Ingredients:
In a nutshell, you need the fish and ingredients to make the flavorful Kerala Paste- where the important ingredients are curry leaves and tamarind paste.
- 1 – 1 1/2 pounds white fish (black cod, sea bass, halibut, mahi-mahi, escolar, ono, wild cod, haddock, etc.) whole filet or pieces-thicker cuts are best here!
- garlic cloves
- curry leaves
- chili powder
- yellow curry powder (optional)
- coconut oil (or ghee) or olive oil
- tamarind paste water (or lime juice)
How to Make Kerala Fish (see detailed recipe below)
Here is a basic overview of how to make the Kerala-Style Fish (Detailed instructions are provided in the recipe box below!)
- Preheat the oven or grill
- Make the paste using a food processor
- Coat the fish with the paste
- Roast or grill
- Squeeze with Lime!
Types of fish to use: Here I’m using Black Cod, but other white fish like sea bass, halibut, mahi-mahi, escolar, ono, wild Alaskan cod, haddock -whole filet or pieces, work well too. Thicker cuts are best here!
After you spread the flavorful paste on the fish, then either bake it or grill it.
We loved this Kerala Fish served with the Indian Lemon rice… which I will post tomorrow!
For an optional garnish, sizzle a few fresh curry leaves in ghee and spoon over top. Serve with lime wedges.
If you are a fish lover and appreciate Indian flavors- this recipe is for you.
Wait to make it until you can locate fresh curry leaves– it is the signature ingredient here, so don’t try to replace it. Happy cooking!
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 20
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 1x
- Category: Main, fish
- Method: baked
- Cuisine: Indian
Kerala-Style Fish, made with a flavorful paste that is either grilled or roasted in the oven. Curry leaves and Tamarind Paste give this Indian Recipe its unique flavor. Serve this with Indian Lemon Rice and Raita!
1 – 1 1/2 pounds white fish (black cod, sea bass, halibut, mahi-mahi, escolar, ono, wild cod, haddock, etc.) whole filet or pieces (thicker cuts are better here)
- 2 shallots, sliced ( 1/3 cup)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 12 curry leaves
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder (optional)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or ghee)
- 1 tablespoon tamarind water (or lime juice)
Garnish with Lime wedges and fried curry leaves. Serve with Indian Lemon Rice, Naan Bread and Raita.
- Preheat oven to 375F. (see notes for grilling)
- Pat dry fish, remove any bones, and place on a greased or parchment-lined sheet pan
- Make the paste: Place all the paste ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides, pulse again, and repeat, until it becomes a cohesive, thick, paste. It doesn’t need to be smooth. To make tamarind water mix 1 teaspoon tamarind paste with 2 teaspoons water ( just add both to processor)
- Brush the Kerala Paste on the tops and sides of fish.
- Bake until cooked through (12-18 minutes depending on thickness), then broil for a couple of minutes if you like, to get the top golden.
- Optional: In a skillet, sizzle a few fresh curry leaves in ghee for 20-30 seconds until crisp, and spoon over the fish for a pretty garnish.
- Place on a banana leaf if you like and serve with lime wedges, Indian Lemon Rice or Basmati Rice and Raita.
If using very thin fish like tilapia or similar, I recommend pan-searing it on the stovetop in a little oil, so you can “cook the paste” without overcooking the fish.
GRILLED: Feel free to grill the fish ( if it is a fish that will hold together). Grill over medium heat. If grilling a whole filet, lay it down skin-side down on a well-greased grate ( marinade side up). Cover, and cook through until flesh is flaky (test with a fork) 9-15 minutes- time will vary depending on thickness. Using two big metal spatulas place on a platter. If grilling individual, skinless portions, brush both sides with marinade and cook each side 3-5 minutes or until cooked through and flakey.
I’ve also used this flavorful Kerala Paste on chicken before grilling or pan-searing, and on tofu, before baking. Super tasty.
The Curry leaves really elevate the dish (in my humble opinion). Yes, I know they are harder to find. When you do find them, buy extra to freeze so you have them on hand. 😉
- Serving Size: one, 4 ounce serving of sea bass
- Calories: 164
- Sugar: 1.9 g
- Sodium: 573.9 mg
- Fat: 6 g
- Saturated Fat: 3.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 5.2 g
- Fiber: 1.5 g
- Protein: 21.7 g
- Cholesterol: 46.5 mg
Keywords: Kerala Fish, Kerala Fish recipe, Indian fish recipe, indian fish curry, Kerala Fish Curry, Kerala Fish fry, Kerala Fish recipes,
Best fish I have eaten in a very long time. The frangrance of the paste was already brilliant, but the taste of the fish was sublime. Thank you!
Great to hear Lindsey- glad you gave this one a go- a favorite here as well!
WOW this was delicious! I made this as a simple date night meal to eat in the backyard now that the weather is a bit nicer here on the East Coast. I paired this with the Indian Lemon Rice and they went perfect together. The fresh curry leaves really do make the dish. Thank you so much Sylvia, your blog blows me away.
Thanks Allison- so happy you enjoyed this one!
Sylvia, do you include the curry leaves in the actual paste or just as a topping at the end?
Yes, Mary-Clare, grind up the curry leaves into to the paste!
This looks amazing! Question: can I make the paste ahead of time? Perhaps a day or two in advance?
This is a very tasty and easy reciepe. I loved it. Followed it to a T. Add some green chillies though and ginger
This was so dang tasty, healthy, and easy to prepare! I made it with the lemon basil orzo as another poster suggested and it paired really beautifully. Definitely don’t skip frying the curry leaves in a little ghee for a topping at the end! Doing this step adds a little something 🙂
This was absolutely awesome. I made it as directed, only i had to substitute the lime juice for the tamarind water. I used cod loin, and did it on the grill. My fish was not thick enough, so I lost probably half through the grill grates. That being said.. It was the best fish I ever ate! I didn’t do the rice. Instead I made the lemon orzo basil salad you posted a week or so ago.. Really good. This was the 2nd time I’ve made that. The week you posted the larb salad, the zucchini spinach rolls and the lemon orzo basil salad, I made them all and they were all crazy good. Used lemon, sweet & thai basil from my garden for all of those recipes. My question, the Kerala paste, what else have you tried it on, also have you ever used it on fish on the grill?? would I be better off baking it?? And thank you again, You are my go-to recipe girl!!
Thanks so much Robin! I baked it. If grilling fish I would definitely use fish with the skin on the bottom or something really firm. Cod can be pretty flakey so I see how you had trouble with it. Mahi, sea bass, black cod, halibut all work great on the grill.