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  • Writer's pictureDina Begum

fragrant coconut fish curry

My idea of a good fish curry means simplicity and soft, flaky fish, gently poached in a light broth instead of the heavy curry bases usually used in chicken and meat dishes in your typical high street Indian restaurant. I only started experimenting with fish dishes over the past couple of years as I was daunted by the thought of broken pieces of fish, getting the spices all wrong and most importantly the countless bones that I would have to deal with. I've realised that unlike meat or chicken curries, which can withstand a few mistakes here and there, fish requires particular attention. The spices exclude heavy flavours such as star anise, favour garlic instead of ginger and timing has to be just right as it's not the sort of thing you can leave bubbling away on the stove.

I came up with this recipe by accident and now it's one of my firm favourites. I love sweet potatoes and anything with coconut milk and had some fish and an aubergine that needed to be used up so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something new. This curry is light and slightly sweet with the addition of coconut milk and sweet potato, has some heat and the best part is that it’s super quick to make! So if you need a meal that looks fancy but takes you less than 30 minutes - this is your dish. I personally love the sweet, creamy, hot combination. If you don't like your food too spicy you can always adjust the temperature by adding one chilli de-seeded. I've used tilapia fillets here any boneless white fish will work equally well.

Ingredients (serves 4)

3-4 tilapia fillets (approx 400g) cut into large chunks

1 red pepper

1 sweet potato

1 small aubergine

1 small onion finely chopped

400ml coconut milk

2 cloves garlic crushed

½ square inch ginger crushed

½ tsp chilli powder

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp garam masala

2 finger chillies split down the centre – (de-seeded if you don’t like spice)

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 tbs oil – I prefer rapeseed oil

2 tsp salt (adjust to taste)

Fresh coriander chopped (a few sprigs)


Chop the pepper and aubergine into large pieces and peel and cube the sweet potato. Rinse the chopped vegetables and keep to the side.

Heat oil in a medium sized pan and add mustard seeds. When the seeds start to pop, add the crushed garlic, ginger, onion and salt. Sautee until the onion has softened – roughly 5 minutes.

Add the spices and cook for a couple of minutes and stir in the sweet potato. Cover with a lid and let it cook for a few minutes.  Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil then reduce heat to a medium simmer and add the rest of the vegetables and green chillies and cook for 5-7 minutes.

When the potato has softened (test by pricking a fork into a piece of potato) lay the fish pieces on top and cover and cook for about 10 minutes on a low flame. 

In the final minute or two add the fresh chopped coriander lift the pan by the handles and shake gently, so everything is incorporated. Do not stir as this will break the delicate fish. Serve with steamed white rice and enjoy!

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