Dry Fish Curry with Tamarind and Curry Leaves

, from Issue #78. May, 2018
Photography by Manja Wachsmuth.
Dry Fish Curry with Tamarind and Curry Leaves

Use a firm-fleshed fish that will hold its shape when cooked. Salmon steaks also work beautifully with the curry leaves and spices.

Serves: 4


700 grams fish fillets (I used monkfish)
1 lemon
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
sea salt
Spice base
coconut or vegetable oil, for cooking
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 stems curry leaves, plus extra for serving
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon ground chilli or more to taste
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
2 tablespoons water
grated palm sugar or caster sugar
To serve
thinly sliced red onion, lime wedges and coconut yoghurt


Cut the fish into serving portions and place on a large plate. Squeeze over the lemon juice and turn to coat. Sprinkle over the turmeric and season with salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.

To cook: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan. Cook the onion, curry leaves and mustard seeds with a pinch of salt over a medium heat for 10 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes. until fragrant.

Scrape the mixture into a bowl, then add a little more oil to the pan. When hot, add the fish and cook until golden and just cooked through. Add the onion mixture back to the pan and stir in the tamarind and water. Bring to a simmer and taste. If it’s too sour, stir in a little sugar to balance the flavours.

To serve: Top the fish with sliced red onion and lime wedges and serve the coconut yoghurt separately. Serves 4.