Super Simple Fish Curry

From Spices & Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors, by Rinku Bhattacharya (Hippocrene Books, Inc.) Yield:  6 servings
Prep Time:  10 minutes Cook Time:  20 minutes

Super Simple Fish Curry

“You can make this with any fresh firm fish, but my choices are usually mackerel steaks, rainbow trout, or halibut. As long as the fish is the freshest possible, the key element in Indian cooking is getting the seasonings right. This recipe merges the five-spice blend of eastern India with flavors from the northern state of Punjab, resulting in an interesting medley of regional Indian flavors. It is inspired by my friend’s mother, who is a Punjabi married into a Bengali family—hence the juxtaposition of flavors. Sometimes the most interesting nuances in Indian food emerge when flavors from two different parts of India are blended.” —Rinku Bhattacharya


2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon Bengali Five Spice Mixture (panch phoron) (see Kitchen Tip)

1 small to medium red onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste (see Kitchen Tips)

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

2 tomatoes, chopped

2 pounds fish steaks or fillets, cubed

2 green chilies, minced

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon carom seeds (see Kitchen Tip)

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro to garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet on medium heat spreading in the pan until the oil shimmers. Add the five-spice blend and cook until the spices begin to crackle and the mixture is fragrant, about 30 seconds if the oil is well heated.
  2. Add the onion and ginger-garlic paste and sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the turmeric, salt, and tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes until the tomatoes begin to release their juices.
  4. Add the fish, green chilies, and thyme. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through, stirring gently to allow the sauce to coat the fish.
  5. Garnish with cilantro and serve over steamed white rice.

Kitchen Tips

  1. Bengali five-spice mixture is available in Indian markets and online. Click here for one online source.
  2. To make ginger-garlic paste, combine equal amounts of fresh garlic and fresh ginger (both peeled) in a food processor and process until the mixture reaches the consistency of a paste. The author notes: Fresh ginger-garlic paste will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, and it can also be stored in the freezer almost indefinitely.”
  3. From the Test Kitchen: Carom seeds are also known as ajwain or ajowan seeds. Ajwain is an herb in the cumin and parsley family. It is available in Indian markets and online, including here.


Photo by Rinku Bhattacharya

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