Fish Curry | Easy Indian Fish Curry | How to make Fish curry

Indian Fish Curry with Tilapia
Yields: 10 Servings Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 25 Mins Cook Time: 20 Mins Total Time: 45 Mins

This is one of the simplest versions of a fish curry that a beginner can prepare, that is healthy and flavorsome too. This fish curry is a staple at our home.

It is tangy, spicy and delicious . It hardly takes around 45 minutes to make it. Also, It takes very few ingredients to prepare this fish curry.

It is also a side dish for steamed rice as well as chapatti, roti or naan (some popular Indian flatbreads) for either lunch or dinner.

Why it is a favorite:

This is a fish curry that is regularly prepared in my family since many years. I have been relishing this fish curry since childhood 🙂 and I totally love it!

This recipe is also a specialty in the southern state of Kerala in India. It is also known as Kottayam Fish curry. Kottayam is a region within Kerala, where locals usually make it using red chilly powder. This is what gives it a bright red color.

Other regions of Kerala, as well as other coastal regions of India, also use coconut as a base, with a variation in spices, to make a fish curry too. 

How to make it:

Since generations, this red fish curry is traditionally prepared in a clay or earthen pot (locally known as ‘Mann Chatti’. ‘Mann’ is Mud and ‘Chatti’ means pot). We keep the fish curry aside for a whole day, so that it develops a wonderful flavor, before being relished the next day.

I made this fish curry in the traditional way, in a clay pot. It gives an authentic flavor to the dish. However, you can make it in any good pan that you have. So, no worries there 🙂

I was able to get some fresh tilapia from our local fish market. So, I decided to go ahead and make this fish curry since I had been craving to have some.

The Process

First, I sautéed spices like ginger and garlic in coconut oil.

Next, to make the red curry sauce, I toasted some basic spices like red chilly powder and coriander powder. After that, I added some tamarind infused water and some aromatic curry leaves, to make the quick curry.

In the end, I simmered the pieces of the tilapia fish in it, till it was cooked through. I drizzled a spoonful of raw coconut oil over it, to enhance the traditional flavor.

So simple, right? I have provided images and step-by-step instructions and details of this process, to guide you.

And like I said, I had it with some simple steamed rice to go with it the next day. It was heavenly.

You really do not need any other extra side dishes to have with it. You can prepare this a day before. Especially, if you have less time and energy to make an elaborate meal. Or you want to plan your meals.

Fish Substitutes:

I have substituted Tilapia with fresh Salmon several times. It still tingles my taste buds. Locally, especially in the southern state of Kerala, in India, Sardines, Mackerel or Kingfish is the fish of choice to prepare this Red Fish Curry. You may use any fish with firm flesh.

You can also experiment this red fish curry with Pomfret, Pompano and Seer fish too. It won’t go wrong.

You can make this same red curry with prawns too! It will still be delicious.

I have shown you the easiest and most basic way to make it. If you enjoyed making and having it, please do share this recipe with your family members and friends too. 

Share your experience with me in the comments section below 🙂

So, enough talk. Let’s pull out our aprons and start preparing it…

Other delicious recipes to try:


0/12 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
  • Dry Powdered Spices


0/7 Instructions
  • Turn on the gas to a medium- high heat. Once the pot is sufficiently hot, add 2 tbsp coconut oil. Reserve the remaining 1 tbsp to be used in the end until the fish curry is ready.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the chopped ginger, chopped garlic and the curry leaves. Saute it for few seconds, till the ginger and garlic turns a light golden, or until the raw smell is gone.
  • Add both, the tamarind as well as the water that it was soaked in, to the pot. Allow the tamarind water to boil along with the ginger, garlic, curry leaves and spice powders.
  • Add in additional 1 or 2 cups of water to the pot. This will be the gravy. You may adjust the quantity of water depending on how thick or how runny you need the gravy. One the water starts boiling, add in 1 and a half tbsp of salt.
  • Now add the pieces of fish to the gravy. Adjust the level of water to the pot, such that the water covers the pieces of fish completely, and is about 1/2 an inch above the pieces.
  • Take care not to stir the delicate fish pieces with a spoon, since it might break. You may instead rotate the pan around, so that the seasoning of spices and salt are uniformly distributed throughout the gravy. Once the fish is completely cooked, switch off the flame, and pour the remaining 1 tbsp of coconut oil that was kept aside, over the red fish curry. It gives a wonderful aroma and well rounded taste to the fish curry.
  • Your Easy Red Fish Curry is ready to be served with Steamed rice or even Chappati, Roti or Naan. Enjoy!


This red fish curry will be tastier, if you prepare it with coconut milk rather than water. For those who may not have access to coconut milk, and for beginners, I have made it without using the same. I will post the coconut milk version of the fish curry for you all, in another post soon :)

Also, as I mentioned earlier, if you prepare it a day in advance, you will find that this red fish curry will be tastier.

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