Indian. Sri Lankan.

Clay Pot Fish Curry

There was a time in my life when I never liked fish curry.  These days, I am experimenting with fish curries from different parts of India and other South East Asian countries.

An authentic South Indian fish curry must have tamarind and fenugreek.  Whether you add coconut milk or not depends on which part of India the recipe is from. I have seen my mother grinding grated coconut, coriander seeds and other spices using the flat grinding stone “ammi kal” and then using that curry paste to cook the curry.  The result will be a rich, thick gravy that leaves a slight coarse texture from the coconut in your mouth.

If I am cooking for a small group of people, I prefer to cook fish curry in a clay pot.  This clay pot that I have in this photo has been with me for about 16 years – you can see the cracks and I may soon have to use it as a vessel to grow a plant.  Do you know that the taste of tamarind gets a plus taste when cooked in a clay pot? 

As far as possible we should not cook ingredients like tomatoes and tamarind in an aluminum pot as it causes the metal to dissolve rapidly and affect the taste of the cooked food. Leaching of aluminum in foods is also dangerous for health. It can inhibit absorption of important minerals like iron and calcium.

Dilute the curry with water if you find it too thick for your liking. You can add brinjals on top of the ladies fingers that are already in the recipe. Some of you may wonder why I have asafetida powder in a fish curry………..just try the recipe and tell me what you think!

50 ml cooking oil

5 g mustard seeds

5 g cumin seeds

5 g fenugreek seeds

3 g asafetida powder

150 g shallots, sliced

30 g garlic cloves, sliced

30 g ginger, sliced

2 sprigs curry leaves

80 g Kashmiri chilli powder

60 g coriander powder

10 g cumin powder

5 g turmeric powder

200 ml water

200 g tamarind macerated in 1300 ml water and strained

200 g tomatoes, seeded and quartered

5 g salt + –

250 g ladies’ fingers, cut into 5 cm pieces

500 g fish slices

2 tablespoons coriander leaves chopped


  1. Heat oil in a clay pot or pan and fry the whole spices until aromatic.
  2. Add in shallots, garlic, ginger and curry leaves and sauté till shallots turn light brown.
  3. Combine the spice powders with 200 ml water to form a paste and add it to the oil.
  4.  Sauté over low heat till oil separates.
  5. Add in the tamarind water, tomatoes and salt and bring to boil for 10 minutes over medium heat.  (If you are using brinjals, you can add them at this stage)
  6. Add in the ladies’ fingers and boil for 5 minutes.
  7. Add in the fish slices and coriander leaves and boil till fish is cooked.

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