Fish Curry (Coconut Milk)

Recipe Courtesy: Late Mrs Achai Manuel

Ammama, my paternal grand mother, was always keen to learn new recipes. Despite being an excellent cook herself, she never shied away from asking someone how to do or make something. Cooking for her, was a time to bond with family and friends. I remember my maternal grandmother mention that she was pleasantly surprised to find Ammama in the kitchen peeling shallots when she was visiting my mother’s house. At a time when in-laws are treated like Gods, here is someone who just wants to be part of your household. She was an epitome of humility!

She also had a great sense of humor. When her children and husband rejected her fresh and tasty homemade food for the stale ones from the food trucks, she wrapped her food in restaurant style and asked the maid to take it out through the back door and bring it back again through the front door. Call it frugality or smartness, the trick worked! Her lessons in cooking were that it’s not rocket science , everybody can cook and most importantly, it’s never too late to learn.

This simple fish curry recipe, portrays her style of cooking, simple yet no compromise in the taste.


Fish – 350 gms-500gms

Sliced Shallots – 10 -12

Green Chilly (slit)-4

Sliced Garlic – 4 cloves

Sliced Ginger – 1 tbsp

Curry Leaves -1 sprig

Chilly powder – 1.5 tsp

Coriander Powder – 2 tsp

Turmeric powder -1/4 tsp

Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp

Salt – to taste

Kodumpuli/ Cambodge – 2 (option: raw mango slices )

Thin Coconut milk – 1.5 cups

Thick Coconut Milk- 1/2 cup

For Tempering

Coconut oil -1 tbsp

Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp

Fenugreek seeds – 1 pinch

Curry Leaves – 1 sprig


  • In a clay pot or kadai, add the cleaned fish, shallots, green chillies, ginger, garlic , Curry Leaves, chilly powder, coriander powder, Turmeric powder, salt, coconut oil.
  • Rub all the ingredients together with your hand.If you are using raw mango instead of kodampuli, add it at this stage .
  • Once the fish is combined with the marinade, pour the thin coconut milk and add the kodampuli.
  • Cover and let the fish cook in the thin coconut milk at a low flame. At this stage, if you think the spice level is low, you could add more chilly powder to your taste. And mix it to blend into the coconut milk .
  • When the fish is cooked and Curry starts to boil, add the thick coconut milk and let it simmer. Check the salt at this stage and add more, if required.
  • Take the curry off the flame and let it rest .
  • This type of fish curry is best when it has had at least a couple of hours for the flavours to set in.
  • When you are ready to serve, heat the oil for tempering.
  • Add mustard seeds. When it starts spluttering, add a pinch of fenugreek seeds. Add the Curry Leaves and pour the oil over fish curry.


There is a reason why a grandmother’s recipe can never be recreated. Ingredients can be bought from a supermarket but the love that she puts into it is irreplaceable.~~~ Unknown

For an adaptation of this recipe, please visit 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. John says:

    Here in the US, we depend on tinned coconut milk. Madam, could you please let me know if diluted coconut milk can be substituted for thin coconut milk. Or can I just use water instead?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maya’s LAB says:

      Yes you can use diluted coconut milk from the tins. I myself make the coconut milk from the powdered coconut milk. I find it easier to reach the consistency of the actual one. The tinned ones are usually very concentrated.


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