Pan fried fish fillet with Malabar curry sauce

From Cookipedia

Pan fried fish fillet with Malabar curry sauce
Pan fried fish fillet with Malabar curry sauce
Servings:Serves 4
Calories per serving:640
Ready in:1 hour, 30 minutes
Prep. time:30 minutes
Cook time:1 hour
Difficulty:Average difficulty
Recipe author:Chef
First published:11th March 2013

Another recipe personally recommended to me by Nik from Nik and Edwina's Cookbook.

I cannot do any better than Nik's own comments:

"We both love fish, and we both love curry, but we don't actually make that many fish curries. This though, is a gorgeous exception, a classy, sophisticated, exciting dish combining the subtle spice crusting of the fish with a complex, zesty, slightly fruity sauce; the last ingredient to go into the sauce, the tamarind, binds the flavours together perfectly. It’s not a madly hot sauce, but the flavours are lifted by a medium strength chilli heat. Brill works very well, it’s quite a fishy fish, but we've tried it with lemon sole and monkfish too, and they worked beautifully. The butter basting technique of cooking the fish is an interesting one, the fish is actually cooked much more slowly than conventional pan frying, retaining flavour and texture and juiciness without making it greasy."

pan fried fish


Printable 🛒 shopping list & 👩‍🍳 method for this recipe

spice rub

spice crust

masala mix for the sauce


to serve


  1. Pat the fish dry with kitchen paper, rub with the turmeric and salt and set aside for at least 30 minutes
  2. To make the spice crust, roast all the spice crust ingredients except the ginger and nutmeg in a dry, heavy bottomed frying pan for about 4 minutes, until they start to smell lovely. Leave to cool, then grind to a coarse powder in a mortar and pestle. Add the ginger and nutmeg and mix well. Rub the mixture evenly into the flesh side of the four fish fillets, sprinkle some on a plate, and leave them skin side up on top. Set aside
  3. To make the masala mix for the sauce, roast the cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves and star anise in a dry, heavy bottomed frying pan for about 4 minutes, until they are fragrant. Leave to cool, then grind to a very fine powder in a spice grinder or blender. Add the powdered coriander, fennel seeds and cumin, and give a final blitz to mix the spices. Set aside.
  4. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok and add the onions and cinnamon. Fry gently for about 10 mins, or the onion is soft and translucent, then add the cardamom, cloves, mustard seeds and bay leaf. When the mustard seeds begin to crackle, add the curry leaves, ginger, turmeric, chilli powder and a tablespoon of the masala mix (the rest will keep well in an airtight container in a cupboard). Stir for one minute, then add the tomato and salt, and cook till soft. Add the coconut milk and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Then add the tamarind paste, and simmer for 3 minutes. Then sieve into a small saucepan and remove from the heat. Set aside and keep warm
  5. Steam and drain the spinach
  6. To cook the fish, heat the ghee in a heavy bottomed frying pan, add the fish, skin side down, and cook over a low to medium heat for about 5 minutes, basting with melted butter as you do. Then turn over, and cook for another 4 minutes, still basting

Serving suggestion

Put a puddle of the sauce on each of four plates and carefully place a fillet on top, skin side up. Put a spoonful of spinach on one side and a decent sized blob of yogurt on the other, scatter a couple of whole coriander leaves, and serve.

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