I’m happy to be finally sharing this Indian yellow fish curry recipe on the blog after life threw my routine off the rails for a few weeks. Now, you would think this to be a yellow fish curry from East Asia, and I wouldn’t blame you. In truth, I don’t know of any specific Indian yellow fish curry recipe, this one is just what I choose to call this curry. What’s in a name and all that.
Fresh turmeric for taste and colour
Winter brought its bounty of fresh, fragrant turmeric and this fish curry is one of the dishes I made using them. Now, what most people don’t understand is that turmeric both fresh and dry, is an ingredient to be used sparingly. Less is always more. Get carried away with turmeric, and you will end up making your dish bitter and inedible. So use a “halka haath” which literally means ‘a light hand’ when cooking with turmeric.
My Indian yellow fish curry recipe has all of 2 inches of the turmeric tuber. It lends the curry an appetising, golden colour and imbues it with an earthy pepperiness, typical to fresh turmeric. The mellow coconut milk balances out the more pungent flavours in this bright yellow dish.
Yellow mustard, not black
Now you all know about the Bengali-style mustard fish curries; there’s one on this site as well. I love the tingling pungency of black mustard with fish. It’s a match made in food heaven. But yellow mustard is the milder, more subtle cousin which also complements seafood beautifully. The taste of the mellow yellow mustard can be compared to the role of the bass guitar in a song – it quietly enhances the flavours, hardly drawing attention to itself. Eliminate it from the recipe and you’ll know that your curry’s missing an essential ingredient. The little yellow fish-roe-like mustard seeds add a gentle heat and creaminess to this Indian yellow fish curry recipe.
From Pondicherry with love
This fish curry is lightly inspired from the Pondicherry-style seafood curries, which are a delightfully unexpected blend of French and Tamil cuisines. Yellow mustard is very French, coconut milk and fenugreek seeds are intrinsic to Tamil food. When combined with the other spices and ingredients such as fresh turmeric, garlic, onions, tomatoes, curry leaves, and fresh, meaty seerfish, the resulting curry is a full-mouthed, velvety, harmonious dish that’ll make you smile a quiet smile of satisfaction.
Indian Yellow Fish Curry
- 400 g seer fish slices
- 100 ml thin coconut milk (second extract)
- 200 ml thick coconut milk
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 10-12 curry leaves
- 2 green or red chillies slit lengthwise
- 1 tbsp white, distilled vinegar
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
For the spice paste
- 2 inch piece fresh turmeric,
- 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds soaked in a little water
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1½ tsp chilli powder
- To make the spice paste, grind all the ingredients with a little water till you have a smooth paste.
- Heat oil in a pan and cook the onion till soft and translucent. Now add the curry leaves and the spice paste.
- Cook for 3-4 mins on low heat till it loses the smell of raw garlic and turmeric. Now add the chopped tomatoes, fresh chillies and salt. Cover and cook for 2 mins till the tomatoes are squishy.
- Pour in the thin coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Slip in the fish slices and cook for 10 mins till they are opaque and done. Now add the vinegar and thick coconut milk, check the seasoning and simmer for a further 4-5 min. Serve with steamed rice.