Coastal Coconut and Tamarind Fish Curry
Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 2:58PM
Marc in Indian, Indian, curry, curry leaves, gluten free, spicy

I looooooove Indian food. If you’ve ever read this blog, you *may* have also gathered that I loooooooove cookbooks. Finding a good Indian cookbook is always a special thrill.

Finding one where I can make the dishes in less than an hour is amazing. Especially if the recipes are mind-numbingly delicious. 

You’re welcome in advance, because Spices & Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors by Rinku Bhattacharya is that book.

I initially made a few dishes from this book at home when I received a review copy back in the fall. We were both excited by the depth of flavor and complex combinations of ingredients in the things I made. I tried taking pictures of the completed dishes so I could put them in the blog, but it was December. Between the light and my lack of photography skills, the results looked like something you peel off your car tires after a road trip.  I meant to try again right away, but life happened: We bought a new house, packed up the old one, moved, went on an amazing vacation to Europe with our BFFs, and I started a new job.  Pretty much all of the major life events a couple goes through other than a divorce or death (so he’d better watch himself…I’m just sayin’).

This week I went back to Spices and Seasons and made my favorite dish for lunch on Sunday. I bought some halibut and threw together Rinku’s Coastal Coconut and Tamarind Fish Curry. It incorporates some of my favorite things about indian cuisine:  Curry Leaves, Black mustard seeds, caramelized onions, tamarind and a lot of chiles. From start to finish, it took about a half hour. Of that, the active prep time was about 10 minutes. Just as I finished taking a couple of photos of the finished dish, David came downstairs with a fake pouty face and whiny voice to ask, “Is there anything to eat”?  Why yes…yes there is….Who’s the best husband EVER!?!?! 

You’re going to love this dish if you like Indian food. If the spices are too intense for you, you can either reduce the chiles or MAN UP!!! 

It’s delicious.

The flavors are very well harmonized.

And you shouldn’t be such a wuss.

Some notes on modifications…I needed to add more than the half cup of water at the beginning of the simmer both times I made this dish. I used more like a cup. Also, I used halibut for the fish because I just find it to be the perfect texture for curries.

Let me know if you give this one a try, and also check Rinku’s other recipes. I’ve linked her book below and you can also find some on her blog at:

Coastal Coconut and Tamarind Fish Curry

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Serves 6


2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

10 to 15 curry leaves

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced, fresh ginger

1 ½ tablespoons cumin-coriander powder (toast equal parts cumin seeds and whole coriander seeds in a pan until toasty and fragrant—about a minute—and then blitz in a coffee grinder)

2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder

1 tsp red cayenne pepper powder

2 Tablespoons tamarind paste (not concentrate)

½ cup coconut cream

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 ½ pounds white fish fillets (such as tilapia, perch, or halibut), cut into 2 or 3 pieces each

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro


Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat for about 30 seconds. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and when the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the curry leaves and onion and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the ginger, cumin-coriander powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, and cayenne pepper powder and stir well for about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the tamarind paste and ½ cup of water and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 15 minutes ,until the flavors have mixed and the mixture is thick and a deep shade of red.

Stir in the coconut cream, salt, and another ½ cup water and bring to a simmer.

Add the fish and simmer for about 10 minutes until cooked through.

Stir in the cilantro and serve with hot steamed rice.

On a 1-5 Scale:

Content: 4

Photography: 3.5

Ease of Understanding / Use: 4

Overall: 4

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