This is a simplified and mild version of a Kerala-style fish curry recipe, of tender fish bathed in a creamy tomato and coconut curry, served on coconut rice.
Kerala fish curry is also called Meen Kuzhambu, and is part of South Indian Kerala cuisine. Kerala is a coastal Provence, and this curry is usually made with smaller fish like anchovies or sardines, but I like to make it with meatier fish, in this case, salmon. It is traditionally made as a spicy curry, but this version is mild to suit the whole family. If you want to make it spicier, there are notes below about what to add. Serving the curry on coconut rice gives you an extra creamy base.
What do you need to make this simplified version of a Kerala fish curry recipe?
For the curry
- Use a store-bought curry paste - I used Korma curry paste, a mild curry paste that contains a lot of what you would add if you were making this from scratch, including turmeric, cumin, fennel, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, coconut, onion and coriander powder.
Tip - if you want to make a more authentic version of this curry, then see the section optional add-ins below, as well as recommendations if you want to adjust the spice level.
- For aromatics, use black mustard seeds, garlic, ginger and onion.
- For liquid, use diced tomatoes and coconut milk.
- For vegetables, I used carrots, corn kernels and baby spinach, but you can use whichever vegetables you have to hand. Note - it is not following the authentic recipe to include these vegetables, but I am adding them as extra nutrients. You can always leave them out if you wish.
- Fresh fish - I've used salmon in this version of the recipe. You can also use white fish like mahi mahi, King fish, or seer fish.
For the Coconut rice
- Use long-grain white rice, coconut milk and white sugar.
For the toppings
- Fresh coriander
- Raw cashews, which you’ll toast in a saucepan.
How to make this simplified Kerala-style fish curry
First, prepare your aromatics and fresh ingredients. I like to get these sliced and chopped so when it’s time to do the actual cooking, we are ready to go.
Next, rinse your rice, then place in a large saucepan with coconut milk, water and sugar. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, on low heat for 15 minutes. After simmering, keep the lid on and then rest for at least 5 minutes. For best results, wait until the rest of the dish is ready to serve before I remove the lid from my rice.
Now it’s time to get the main ingredients together and start cooking. First, heat a cast iron sauté pan or deep frying pan on medium heat. Add oil, onion, garlic, ginger and mustard seeds, and sauté until soft, about 3-4 minutes.
Then add Korma curry paste and cook until there is a nice aroma from the paste and golden brown. Add coconut milk (you can also use coconut cream if you want a creamier version), diced tomatoes and water. I add carrot now also, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Next, let's prepare the fish. I used salmon, however, you can really use any fish you like, just make sure to allow enough cooking time. I've recommended some different fish types in the optional add-ins section below. Slice salmon into small pieces, about 1-2 cm big, so it will cook quickly.
Once you've simmered your Keralan fish curry for 10 minutes, bring to medium-high heat and add the salmon with the corn kernels and baby spinach and stir through until cooked. I prefer to cook fish for just a minute or two, which results in juicy fish pieces.
Serve with a small bowl of roasted cashew nuts and coriander.
Top tip for roasting cashew nuts
We will dry roast our cashew nuts in a small frying pan over medium heat. Make sure you keep an eye on them and stir regularly, as they can go from blonde to burnt very quickly!
- This recipe is gluten-free and dairy free.
- You can swap fish for chickpeas if you would like to make it vegan.
Optional Add-ins when making this Kerala fish curry recipe
- I’ve made this version of a Kerala style fish curry quite mild, but you can adjust the heat level by adding chilli powder of fresh green chillies, this is completely up to your personal preference.
- If you want to create a more traditional version of this Kerala fish curry recipe, you can use fenugreek seeds (or fenugreek powder), green chillies, malabar tamarind (or tamarind paste) which tastes sour and sweet, turmeric powder, curry leaves and cumin seeds. You can pick up all these ingredients at Indian stores. If you do this, you want to combine them into a smooth paste. For ease, I’m using korma curry paste as a base because it already contains some of these ingredients, and it is easier to prepare on a weeknight.
- Instead of mincing garlic and ginger yourself, you can use pre-prepared garlic paste or pre-prepared ginger paste.
- To make this recipe kid-friendly, you have a few options. It is already a really mild curry, so if your child likes curries, they'll enjoy this.
- However, if you want to reduce the "eek" factor of mustard seeds for your child, you can simply omit these.
- If your child doesn't like curry at all, you can also serve them plain carrots and corn with the coconut rice, and then pick out some salmon pieces and slice them up. They will have a very mild curry flavour.
- Another option is to mix coconut yoghurt or Greek yoghurt through the curry.
You will need a saucepan, a deep frying pan or sauté pan, a small frying pan and a stovetop.
More Fish Recipes
This Easy Laksa Recipe is perfect when you want something warming on a cold night. It's also super quick, and easy to modify for kids.
Ginger Soy Baked Fish with Coconut Rice is another super simple fish recipe, this time it's all about baking it in the oven with some ginger and soy. Serve on creamy coconut rice.
If you want a Mediterranean-style fish dinner, this Crispy Skin Fish with Spinach and Artichoke Beans of crispy fish with that classic spinach and artichoke flavour and creamy beans.
These Spiced Fish Tacos have a lot of ZING - full of lime juice, coriander and spices they're tangy and so delicious.
Mild Kerala-style Fish Curry Recipe with Coconut Milk
- Deep casserole dish
- Small frying pan
- 2 carrot
- 1 brown onion
- 2 tablespoon fresh ginger
- 2 clove garlic
- 1 cup corn kernels frozen
- 1 ⅓ cup Jasmine rice raw
- 1 cup water
- 270 ml coconut milk 670 ml total for the recipe
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds opt.
- 2 tablespoon Korma curry paste
- 400 g diced tomatoes canned
- 400 ml coconut milk 670 ml total for the recipe
- 2 salmon fillets skin off
- ½ bunch coriander cilantro
- ⅓ cup cashews raw
- 60 g baby spinach
- Peel carrot and slice finely into half moons. Peel and dice onion. Peel and grate ginger. Mince garlic. Measure out frozen corn. Option to set aside plain corn and carrot on your child's plate now.2 carrot2 carrot, 1 brown onion, 2 tablespoon fresh ginger, 2 clove garlic, 1 cup corn kernels
- Rinse rice until water runs clear, then drain and add to a saucepan with water, coconut milk and sugar. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 15 mins. Then rest for 5 mins, still covered.1 ⅓ cup Jasmine rice, 1 cup water, 270 ml coconut milk, 1 teaspoon white sugar
- Place a deep casserole dish or saute pan on medium heat. Add oil, onion, ginger, garlic and mustard seeds (option to skip these for kids) and saute for 2 mins, or until fragrant.1 brown onion, 2 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- Add curry paste and saute for 2 mins then add canned diced tomatoes. Fill up can with water and add to the pan. Add coconut milk. Mix, then add carrots. Bring to a simmer then simmer on low for 10 mins.2 carrot, 2 tablespoon Korma curry paste, 400 g diced tomatoes, 400 ml coconut milk
- Slice salmon into cubes (you can also use chicken breast instead of salmon). Pick leaves from coriander.2 salmon fillets, ½ bunch coriander
- Use a small frying pan to toast cashew nuts over low heat. Watch these carefully as they can go from blonde to burnt, quite quickly! These are optional but recommended.⅓ cup cashews
- Once the rice is resting, add salmon to your curry with corn kernels and cook for 1-2 mins until cooked through. Option to remove salmon to your child's plate now. Then add baby spinach and cook until wilted.2 salmon fillets, 60 g baby spinach
- Serve kids fluffed rice with salmon pieces from the curry on the side and plain corn and carrot. OR serve them curry. For adults, serve rice with curry, topped with cashews and coriander leaves.½ bunch coriander