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Fish masala

Kerala fish masala - Fried fish in aromatic spicy and tangy in onion tomato base.

Fish fry or fish curry is an assured items in most of the Kerala menus. We prepare fish in so many different ways. I have already shared the Ernakulam fish curry recipe a few years back. But today's recipe is an entirely different one and is a fish masala. Fried fishes are semi-stewed in tomato onion gravy.

Yes, it has proven that fish curry have maximum taste when it is prepared in earthen pots under low heat. So here for this recipe also, I have used earthen pot which we called manchatti in Kerala. Of course, it boosts the flavours nicely and healthy too. But the main problem is that it burns quickly, especially when we cook on high flame, so recommended to use medium or low heat always.

In this recipe, the fish pieces are marinated well and then fried in coconut oil. Later which is immersed in thick tomato, onion base and steamed. Tomatoes are used to get a beautiful sourness to the dish and I used medium tomatoes...yeah, it is perfect for me. But I recommend you to taste the tomatoes before use and adjust it as sourness may vary.  It is really easy recipe and delicious dish, try and enjoy.


Kerala fish masala | Kerala style fish masala recipe | A recipe for fish curry with semi-thick gravy

Fried fish in aromatic onion-tomato base 
Preparation time: 40 Minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 1/2 kg fish, cleaned and chopped
To marinate fish
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 to 3 tsp  chilli powder
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as needed

For Gravy
  • 2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • One small piece ginger
  • 10 -12 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tbs kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 3/4 tsp garam masala
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 spring curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for frying


Direction of preparation of Kerala fish masala

  1. The first step is marination of the fish. You can choose any fish of your choice but preferably thick fleshed fish. Take the cleaned fish pieces in a bowl, put turmeric powder, chili powder, salt and lemon juice.
  2.  Marinate well and leave it for 30 minutes to 1 hour, so that the flavours infuse nicely.

  3. Heat oil in an earthen pot. Do not pour too much oil, pour just enough to make the gravy. To get the exact taste, coconut oil is recommended.
  4.  Put the marinated fish pieces one by one with a spoon and fry on medium flame until just cooked. Make sure that the oil is hot enough, otherwise the fish will stick to the pan.
  5. Do not fry till crisp. When one side is ready, flip and cook the other side also. Transfer the fried fish into a bowl.
  6. In the same oil, put cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, ginger and garlic. Saute for a few minutes till the raw smell leaves.
  7. Add finely chopped onion and green chilies, Adjust the number of green chillies to your tolerance. Add one spring of curry leaves.
  8. Continue to saute on medium flame till the onion turns soft and almost cooked. At this stage, the onion will be in red colour due to the presence of marinated spices, but will look slightly shrink and reduced volume. 
  9. Put some tomatoes. Tomatoes  deliver a beautiful sour taste to this dish and its amount actually depends on the type of tomato you use.  Here for this recipe, I used two medium tomatoes and get the sourness exactly what I need. So recommended to taste the tomatoes before add in.
  10. Stir them until they nicely combined. Continue to cook on medium or low flame with intermittent stirring. Cook them until they turn soft. You can also cover them with a lid to fasten the cooking process, anyways, we need them to cook till soft. Tomatoes leave its moisture while cooking, so no need to add water at this stage. 
  11. Once the tomatoes turns soft, you can put the Kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala. The Kashmiri red chilli powder we bought this time was a little bit spicy, so I did not add any extra chilli powder to this dish. If you feel less spicy, then you can put one teaspoon chilli powder also but remember, we already added some green chillies and chilli powders before. 
  12. Stir well till the raw smell leaves and put coconut milk and salt.  
  13. Mix well and put the fried fish pieces.Do remember to do a taste test before you put the fish pieces. Add salt and spices if needed considering the spices and salt we put while marinating the fish.
  14. Then, slowly and gently immerse them in the hot spicy gravy. Cook covered for next ten minutes on low flame so that the flavours infuse beautifully. Do not stir in between, but you can swirl and shake the pan without disturbing the fish pieces.
  15. After ten minutes, open the lid and put some chopped coriander leaves. Cover again, leave for at least thirty minutes before serving.
  16. The fish curry is ready. You can serve it with rice, chapati, dosa anything you want.
Happy cooking

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