Sun, Sea and Fish Curry

During our annual trip to Goa, my family would wait patiently for all the religious rituals and temple visits to end so we could eat the amazing seafood that Goa is famous for.

The day went something like this - stop at a roadside shack for a quick breakfast then drive lazily along winding roads with the sea following you like a stalker (Goa forces you to do this - ie. not have an agenda. The Goans' attitude to life can be summed up by this quintessential Goan word - sossegad, which means to take it easy), chance upon a quaint eatery that smells like your mother's kitchen, place your order for fried catch of the day & fish curry, plant your wobbly plastic chair under a benevolent palm and savor every morsel.

You can take as long as you want, this is Goa after all, and time is of no concern. When utterly sated, end this sumptuous meal with kokum kadhi and force your eyes to stay open till you reach the car!

Well without further ado here is the Goan fish curry. Mind you the experience is incomplete without all the factors mentioned above, but we can try!


(adapted from 'The Essential Goa Cookbook')
(serves 2-3)
1 medium size silver pomfret (or any other firm, white fish)
1/2 medium size onion, chopped fine
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp tamarind paste
salt to taste
Grind fine with a little water -
4-5 dry red Kashmiri or Bedgi chilies*
4 cloves garlic
3-4 peppercorns
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 cup grated coconut, fresh or frozen

Clean and slice pomfret lengthwise. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. Apply salt and turmeric and keep aside.

Place chopped onion and ground paste in a pan. Add a cup of water. Bring to a boil on low heat. Add tamarind paste and season with salt.

Finally add fish slices, bring to a second boil then simmer for a few minutes. Serve hot with rice and kokum saar or sol kadhi.

* Make this curry in the morning to serve at dinner, or even better the next day.
* It is Kashmiri chillies that give Goan curries their distinctive color and taste. They are not too pungent but impart color to the dish. Use these (or Bedgi) if possible.

Think of kokum saar as 'sol kadhi' before she gets pretty in pink!
6-7 pieces of kokum
1-2 green chillies, slit
1 large garlic clove
1-2 peppercorns
salt and jaggery to taste
finely chopped cilantro to garnish

Steep kokum in 2 cups of hot water for about twenty minutes. Add minced garlic, chillies and coarsely crushed peppercorns. Let sit for an hour. Season with salt and jaggery. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro at the time of serving.

This saar tastes best when chilled in my opinion but you could serve it at room temperature too. It goes well with non vegetarian curries or spicy dishes. (See also cilantro & tomato saars)

To make sol kadhi add a cup of coconut milk and omit jaggery. Steep the mixture for 1-2 hours so flavors blend well.



Blogger Tina Jennifer D'Silva said...

Hi Ashwini... this is somewhat similar to the Mangalorean fish curry. And yes... I am in love with those Kashmiri chillies. I use them for every recipe that asks for dried red chillies. It gives a beautiful colour to the gravy. But I guess those chillies are not available in the US.. I tried searching in local shops like Patel & Sabzi Mandi... but havent seen even one of them. So I bought both the chillies & the powder from India.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Yes Tina you just cannot substitute Kashmiri in a fish curry. I got mine from India too though the powder is available here.

3:54 PM  
Blogger sailu said...

I prepare a fish curry almost on the same lines but not with kashmiri chillis..I guess I should try it out to get the authentic goan fish curry flavour..:)

12:29 PM  
Blogger Sury said...

This fish lover must make this yum-sounding curry. Thanks for sharing, Ashwini!

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, this one is sooooooooo delicious, sounds quite simple & tasty...plan to try this.

have linked your blog!

10:17 AM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Do try Lera and let me know how it worked.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ashwini,

Delicious looking curry.Did you use fresh whole coconut or is grated coconut available in the Indian stores?

11:48 AM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Hi Anon, I usually don't use fresh coconut bcoz I have to spend an eternity grating it :-)
Grated coconut is available in the freezer section of Indian grocery stores. Look for brands such as Deep, Laxmi etc. Store in the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator/ microwave as required. Let me know how the curry turns out.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Hi Jeff, pomfret is easily available in Chinese super markets, especially Ranch market. It's also sometimes called pompano. If you can't find it though you can use catfish or tilapia.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ashwini,

I made the fish curry yesterday.....and I was transported back to Goa, with the swaying coconut trees, the sun kissed beaches & the salty sea breeze...beautifully delicious...thanks a lot.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Anon so glad to know you liked the curry. And that you share my sentiments about Goa's natural beauty :-)

4:36 PM  
Blogger Creativecook said...


What a well organized blog. came to it through jhiva have added to my links, this recipe has prompted me to start a recipes to try section on my blog.


1:24 PM  
Blogger Manju said...

Hi Aswani
Can i use salmon fish for this gravy

9:29 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Thanks Rinku. Let me know when you get around to trying the fish curry

Manjuleshwari - I don't think salmon would work well in this curry because it is a very fleshy, rich fish. Try tilapia instead. Good luck

10:10 PM  
Blogger nergis said...

hello ashwini,
ive been looking for fish curry recipes for years here in america.never knew which fish to buy.pomfret isnt availablle where i live and i didnt know the substitute.thankyou for the tip.i will try it tommorrow and im sure it will be great.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Nergis glad you found the recipe here. Tilapia won't taste the same as pomfret but it works better than other fish available here in U.S. Let me know how it goes.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Sheetal Kiran said...

I tried the goan curry last night, and it took me right back to a vacation many years ago in Goa.
Thanks very much for such an accurate and delicious recipe! I am going to treasure it forever!!

11:56 AM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Hi Sheetal, welcome to FFT. Glad you liked the curry... your comment has now made me nostalgic about Goa :)

12:04 PM  

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