Goan Fish Curry
August 24, 2015 | Updated March 15, 2021
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Curries fascinate me, and mastering them is no easy feat. This Goan fish curry recipe has gotten me a little further along on that path.
It’s a from-scratch curry from Goa, on the western part of the subcontinent; Goa was once under the control of the Portuguese, and the cuisine shows it. You’ll see wine and lots of vinegar in their cooking, as well as a lot of seafood. I also make a Goan crab curry, too.
Goan fish curry hinges on tart flavors, coconut and sometimes tomato. My rendition leaves out the tomato, but if you want it in there, add 1/2 cup of tomato puree.
Not all fish are suitable for this curry. You will want something that can stand up to simmering, which usually leaves out the stronger flavored fish like mackerel or bluefish or trout. I generally use striped bass, lingcod or halibut here on the West Coast, but chunks of catfish, carp, sturgeon or bass would do, too. Same with grouper, snapper, cod or even firmer fish like cobia or tuna.
Anything that will hold up to a bit of stewing will work.
Indian curry mixes are very personal, so feel free to tinker with this one as I tinkered with all the recipes I studied to come up with mine. But a few things should stay constant: You will want coconut, some chile heat, garlic and onions, and some turmeric. Everything else is up to you.
Goan fish curry recipe is tart, so I follow that region’s practice and use tamarind. You could use lime or vinegar, too. Tamarind paste can be found in Indian, Mexican or Middle Eastern markets, as well as in the “ethnic” section of some larger supermarkets.
The result is a warm, zippy Goan fish curry that’s light enough for seafood yet filling enough to satisfy. Serve this with either basmati rice or Indian flatbreads. For a quick hack, Mexican flour tortillas will do in a pinch.
Goan Fish Curry
- 1 1/2 pounds firm fish, cut into chunks
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 to 5 chiles, such as Thai, Tabasco, arbol or serrano
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 1/2 inch piece of tamarind, or 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
- 1/2 cup water (coconut water is nice here)
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or clarified butter (ghee)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 to 5 jalapenos, sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- Toss the chunks of fish in the lemon and salt and set aside as you chop the vegetables.
- Put everything from the curry mix except the coconut milk into a food processor or blender and puree. If it's too chunky and gunks up your machine, add enough of the coconut milk to let the motor run smoothly. Set it aside.
- In a deep-sided pan, heat the vegetable oil or clarified butter over medium-high heat. Cook the onions until they are soft, and a little browned on the edges, about 6 minutes. Add the sliced jalapenos and the fish and toss to combine. Pour over the curry mix and the rest of the coconut milk. It should be a thick gravy. If it's too thick, add a little water or some more coconut milk if you have some. Let this simmer for 10 minutes, then add the cilantro. Let this cook for 1 minute, then serve with rice.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
What is the size of can of coconut milk you use for this recipe and also you mention substituting citrus for tamarind, which citrus would you use? thanks
Emilie: I’d sub in limes or lemons, and the can is that standard one, about 1 pint or so. It’s about the size of a can of soup.
Thoughts on using this with shrimp/crawfish?
Matt: It’d be fine with shrimp, but with crawfish I’d take them out of the shells first.
Can’t wait to make this with some striped bass. Looks great.
I’ve got some cabezon and ling cod in the freezer that I’ll need to try this recipe with. Last time I remember buying fenugreek was when my wife was trying to boost her milk supply for kid #3. A month or so later we realized that it was kid #4 causing the complication.
Great website! Love your your recipes and passion for cooking, really enjoy putting my meal list together here.
Are you using fenugreek seeds or leaves in this recipe?
This looks absolutely divine! I agree on curries being hard to master, but each attempt is more delicious than the last 🙂
I have done a similar recipe with catfish, and it is delicious. I actually used a sweet cream of coconut (similar to what you would use to make pina colada’s). Served with basmati rice, it’s a favorite here.
Curries are a fav in our family, but rarely fish.
This looks beautiful and easy.
I’ve gotta get my hands on something wild-caught and cook some up tonight.
That looks delicious. Goan cuisine is indeed fascinating and because of the Portuguese influence they use a lot of pork. There’s even a Goan Chouriço (chorizo).