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Alleppey Fish Curry

During a great holiday in the Indian state of Kerala in August 2009, we stayed in the very fine Raheem Residency, a fantastic hotel in the lovely coastal town of Alappuzha (Aleppey). We had this curry on the first night, and, after a conversation with the owner next day about our love of cooking and of Indian food, we were invited into the kitchen to watch the chef make it. We took notes as he did, and we’ve since made it, very successfully, at home It’s a quick and easy to make dish, but has a stunningly sophisticated and classy flavour. The chef at the Raheem Residency did it with Kingfish steaks, but you can do it with any firm, strong flavoured fish - in fact, with sustainability of the world's fish stocks in mind, not to mention the air miles it takes to fly it to the UK, something a bit more local would be preferable Generally Keralans use a much lighter version of the coconut milk we buy in tins in the UK. We've found that if you buy the reduced fat coconut milk, open the can without shaking it, pour off the liquid part and use that, it works well. Then you can dilute the remaining thicker half with a little water and freeze it for next time. We've also recently found Maggi powdered coconut to be excellent for making this curry, though the packet instructions are a little heavy handed; we found 35g of powder to 300mls of water to be perfect

  • Total time: 20 mins 20 minutes


  • 2 medium sized pieces of cod, or another firm, strong flavoured fish (see anove)
    1/2 tsp mustard seed
    1/2 tsp fenugreek
    1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
    2 tsps onion, finely chopped
    1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
    8 - 9 curry leaves
    1/2 tsp mild/medium strength chilli powder
    1 tsp coriander powder
    3/4 tsp turmeric
    400mls water
    1 chunk of kokum or tamarind half the size of your thumb
    300mls thin coconut milk


  1. Fry the mustard and fenugreek in a tablespoon of vegetable or coconut oil till they start popping, then add the onion, ginger and garlic and fry till soft
  2. Add everything else except the fish and coconut milk, bring to a lively simmer, and allow to bubble for 5 minutes
  3. Add the fish and allow to bubble until the liquid has reduced by about 2/3. Remove the kokum (this is quite important, as the cigar-y flavour of too much kokum can be a bit overpowering), and add the coconut milk and allow to reduce by about 1/4. Serve with Chapatis or rice

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