South Indian Fish CurrySouth Indian Fish Curry

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15

I love Indian food. After spending a month in Indian, I returned to New York craving Indian food when all my travel companions wanted burgers. But I have always felt it was too complex for me. The layering of spices, slow cooking and the richness was intimidating. But when two friends, one of whom is married to a Indian guy, offered to host our next recipe group we decided to try our hand at a few classic Indian dishes.

We found a nice fish curry recipe online from Steamy Kitchen which we liked but I was hoping for something more like what I had tasted in the souther state of Kerala. We also realized (watch out for this!) that the garam masala mix we used was heavy on chili powder thus quite hot. So I stared experimenting with softer spices and wanted to add a few vegetables. For more on how to blend flavors, check out my unorthodox framework here, which is based on smell.

Adapted from Steamy Kitchen. Thank you!


Note – there are a lot of spices, but the dish itself is easy to make!

  • 1.5 lbs Swordfish, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 cups of baby spinach
  • 2 large green chilies
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper


  1. Heat a deep frying pan to medium and add a swirl of vegetable oil.
  2. Chop the onion into ½ inch cubes or smaller if you prefer. Grate the ginger and mince the garlic. Remove the seeds from the chilies and slice them into slices ¼ inch wide.
  3. Add to the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes or until clear. Stir occasionally
  4. While this is cooking, chop the red pepper into long thin strips about ½ inch wide and add as soon as they are ready.
  5. Add the tomato pure and the spices, stirring in for 3 minutes
  6. Add the coconut milk and the water. Stir in and cook for 2 minutes
  7. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the fish and the spinach and cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve with long basmati rice or nan.