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  • Fish Curry – Tamil style

    Posted on | January 27, 2007 | 21 Comments |

    Growing up in Kerala, fish was the staple of our diet. I don’t think we had gone two days in a row without some kind of fish. Sometimes we would even have fish for breakfast! Fish curry with Dosa, Idly, Chapatti, Appam, you name a dish, we can have it with fish! Being a working mother, my mom didn’t have time to cook three different dishes for three different meals, I guess that was one of the main reasons for us to have fish for breakfast!

    My mom used to make this red fish curry when we were young, the gravy was so spicy, it was almost like acid! I used to love that curry so much, but these days even though she has reduced the spice level considerably, it is still a little too hot for me, my eyes get watery, my nose keeps running, but still I will sit and polish off my plate…

    Anyway, that used to be my favorite fish curry, till Siv came into my life. He makes the most amazing fish curry, which he says is his mother’s recipe! (It is really not, since when my mother in law visited us, she made the same dish, and it was nowhere close!). Siv’s fish curry has become my new favorite; in my house, I don’t ever make a fish curry, since I can’t compete with his curry in taste, (and since it is a lot of work, cleaning the fish and all ;) . That is his signature dish…

    Here is the recipe for this masterpiece. He makes it with any kind of fish we get here, sometimes even salmon or prawns! The gravy is so good, I think you can put potatoes in it, instead of fish, and it will still come out good. My favorite however is fresh rainbow trout.

    Fish Curry Recipe


    • Trout (You can use fish filets as well) 1 lb
    • Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
    • Green chilies 5
    • Cumin 1tsp
    • Fenugreek seeds 1tsp
    • Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
    • Tomatoes 2 medium sized
    • Tamarind paste 1tsp
    • Curry Leaves 1 bunch
    To Grind
    • Shallots 1 cup
    • Black pepper seeds 1tbsp
    • Fennel seeds 1tbsp
    • Red chili powder 3 tbsp
    • Coriander powder 1/2 tsp


    Clean and cut the fish into 1/4 ” steak pieces. Marinate with a 1/4 tsp red chili powder and salt. Heat oil in a pan and flash fry the fish pieces and keep aside.
    Grind all the ingredients in the second set to a smooth paste and keep aside.

    Heat oil and fry fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and cumin. When the mustard seeds start to splutter, add split green chilies and fry. Add tomatoes cut into small
    pieces and fry , mash the tomatoes while frying. Add the ground masala paste, curry leaves and turmeric powder to the pan and fry till the masala is cooked .
    Add enough water and tamarind paste to the pan and bring to a boil. Add fish pieces and cook for 10 minutes till the desired thickness.

    Category: India - Tamil Nadu, Mains, Recipes, Seafood

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    21 Responses to “Fish Curry – Tamil style”

    1. TinkerBell
      June 16th, 2007 @ 7:52 am

      I tried this recipe for lunch today using fish fillets. Turned out real spicy tangy yummy, just the way I like. Thanks a ton for the recipe. :)

    2. Anonymous
      June 29th, 2007 @ 4:33 pm

      Hi, Sounds good. I m goin to try this today. Can u post your mom’s recipe for fish kolambu?

    3. anu
      February 6th, 2008 @ 9:34 pm

      :( Yes): i madefish curry 1st time in my life and my husband loved me for this

      Thanks Anu… glad to know you liked it…

    4. Veda
      May 11th, 2008 @ 9:53 pm

      Hi sig,

      Although I m a vegetarian you have given me an option of trying this recipe with potatoes….which is lovely! i will surely try this n let u know!!!!

      good day!
      Veda :( coffee):

    5. Deborah
      September 20th, 2008 @ 12:54 pm

      I made this fish curry with catfish steaks for my husband’s birthday dinner. It was outstanding and he was so pleased!!! I used Kashmiri chili that is very hot along with fresh serrano chili,so only two TBSP powder for our taste, and it was spicy hot enough. Thank you for this recipe, we will make it again and again.

      Thanks for the feedback Deborah… glad to hear that you both loved it!

    6. Raja
      January 30th, 2009 @ 5:06 am

      Recipes presented very nicely.

      Will try this fish curry tomorrow.

      BTW, if you can add the names for ingrediants in local languages also, would be very helpfull.

    7. cinthu
      April 25th, 2009 @ 9:41 pm

      hi ..this is exactly how we make the fish curry in our house. we add few pods of garlic and ginger along with the items to grind. Also if you want more gravy you can grind little coconut and add to the gravy… the fish curry would tast really yummy

    8. Dr Wimalaguna
      October 31st, 2009 @ 3:11 am

      My very young age I was bought up in Batticaloa, an eastern coastal town of Sri Lanka. The taste of Tamil fish curry was hidden in my taste buds but until I cooked your dish and tasted today I realised it was the exact thing.
      Dr Wimalaguna , Australia

    9. XYZ
      December 18th, 2009 @ 6:52 am

      Hi, I tried this recipe yesterday. It was awesome!! My husband loved it. I used paprika instead of chilly powder, so my kids enjoyed it too. Thank you so much for this recipe :-)

    10. thulsi
      April 12th, 2010 @ 3:55 am

      Thank you very much for this delicious recipe. I have been looking for another fish curry recipe since I got bored of the one I am always cooking. This was fiery, oh my God! but worth every single drop! perhaps next time I will cut down on the chilly powder hoping it will still taste just as amazing. thanks again.

    11. MJ
      July 31st, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

      Sig, first off thanks for introducing me to the rainbow trout. Seems to be a great fish for curry. But…this curry turned bitter for me.I am not sure if it was the shallots or because I needed to fry the paste more.

      I managed to salvage it with coconut. Any idea what went wrong though?

      • Nat
        February 24th, 2011 @ 8:26 am

        Hi MJ
        I am just reading this blog post for 1st time and saw your comment. I wonder if it is the fenugreek seeds. Fenugreek seeds are very bitter and you have to really roast it for a long time to take down the bitterness.
        Personally I don’t like fenugreek seeds and I will only use a tiny bit of what a recipe calls for because I can’t take the bitterness.

        • May
          December 28th, 2011 @ 10:31 pm

          Fenugreek is bit bitter but it has so many positive nutritional properties that I use this curry as an opportunity to remember to use it.

          I say keep the tradition of using the fenugreek – It is slightly bitter by itself but shouldn’t bitter the curry.

    12. Veena Jagadeesh
      December 20th, 2010 @ 9:05 am

      I came across your blog recently.
      Tried this fish kolmabu today….for the first time in my life, i got it right!!!!!!!!!!!
      It was awesome… hubby & sister in law loved it ( i am a veggie…but, i cook non-veg)…Thanks a ton for this lovely recipe…Keep rocking through cooking ;)


    13. Steve in Albuquerque
      December 9th, 2011 @ 7:20 am

      We’d like to try this recipe but I want to confirm first – it calls for a CUP of shallots? We’ve never used anywhere near that much in a recipe. Just want to confirm before trying. Thanks

    14. Shrads
      June 10th, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

      I just made this recipe and it was fantastic! I was going to add coconut milk at the end (my boyfriend can’t handle the karam), but I think I’ll just leave it as is for myself! Thanks for posting this!

    15. Babu
      November 24th, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

      I followed the recipe for the trout fish and it came out very good. Thank you very much.

    16. Lizzie
      February 17th, 2013 @ 4:53 am

      I agree! Cooked it today, burnt my tongue it’s so hot! But great recipe, thanks;)

    17. Lizzie
      February 17th, 2013 @ 4:55 am

      P.S. the phot of Siv is very cute!!